Skip to main content Skip to main content
Web
CNN/Money

Market Data     

Financial News Courtesy Of CNN - Analysis/Commentary By Al Peia (No Affiliation)

World Indices Weekly Closing Prices

(12-29-06) Stocks drop still only modestly relative to reality with suckers bear market rally still intact as the wall street fraud continues to suck the suckers in; ie., as the Dow Jones industrial average fell 38 S&P fell 6 ,and NASDAQ fell 10 , all very commissionable on heavy volume, as in final pre-election result push for bush, which fell very short but has provided the same pump-priming of the market as most recently seen in 1999 which ended quite badly even without the exacerbating effects of huge unsustainable and debilitating debt/deficits deferring/delaying/prolonging the inevitable reality even as entire domestic u.s. industries are rendered what is tantamount to defunct and with corporate welfare unwisely spent (war crimes, etc.). More reports in defiance of reality, oil prices up, Dollar Slides..., every intelligent analyst/economist knows that the new home sales number from the government is a total lie that will be revised downward later, that the options scandals are pervasive in fraudulent america (100 investigations just tip of the iceberg), oil stocks continue to rally on lower oil prices, as previously on pipeline explosion in Nigeria, spill in Gulf, and sanctions for Iran, and sharp FALL in oil prices.....riiiiight!.....predictions of disappointing retail sales even with fire-sale discounted prices,..... Highest increase (2%) in 30 years for the wholesale price index, and as well, the core ppi (1.3%), GDP growth less than expected at 2%, dollar sharply lower, oil prices up, building permits down, all unexpectedly bad but great news in the fraudulent alice-in-wonderland lunatic world of wall street. New Record Quarterly Trade Deficit initially spurred lunatic market rally along with obfuscating but very commissionable merger activity. Core inflation a very unexpected unchanged .....riiiiight!.....spurs superstitious, devoid of reality, santa rally.  Investment Banks Post Record 2006 Profit .....daaaaah! Churning and earning on worthless paper, where is that commission dollar coming from even as america has ceded solvency/leadership in every economic measure. Even at the lofty record numbers the indices are worth roughly half their value based on precipitous fall of the dollar in only 5 years with further downside to go. Superstitious ‘Santa Claus rally’.....riiiiight! High oil price rally.....riiiiight!  Total  bulls**t ! Retail sales up a very unexpected 1%, riiiiight, at the same time inventories of such goods rising substantially (do you think they’re booking sales to ‘straw men/companies’.....I do!) and oil inventories down. Fake employment numbers (from the government.....riiiiight!) the impetus for previous b.s. rally despite falling sentiment and uptick in unemployment. The ism services index (financed by unsustainable deficit/debt spending and pushing/commissioning worthless paper) and jawboning/bulls**t from the housing industry (the end is near.....riiiiight!), obfuscating mergers continued to cloud the picture, closely-watched core-PCE deflator had risen a more than expected 0.2%, second sub-50 reading on manufacturing activity in as many sessions-the November ISM index unexpectedly fell to 49.5 (consensus 52.0), Chicago PMI fell to its lowest level (49.9%) in October, and below the 50 level, indicating contraction, crude prices up  (OIL PRICES RISE ABOVE $63 A BARREL...), DOLLAR RESUMES SLIDE, Fed Chairman Bernanke & Co. cheerleading/jawboning/bulls**t, 3.2% decline in new home sales, oil inventories down and oil prices up, oil producers shun the dollar, Russia and Opec shift revenues into euros, yen and sterling..., all very bad news anywhere but in the fraudulent alice-in-wonderland world of wall street. Durable goods orders fell sharply, sentiment down, but supposedly used home sales rose slightly (riiiiight.....who says; the realtors/government who have been talking up this bubble market?) albeit at sharply lower prices. DOLLAR PLUNGES TO NEAR 15-YEAR LOW  In other words, no good news to justify the ridiculous up move by the alice-in-wonderland frauds of wall street. Worthless dollar, triple deficits, stock/options scandals/corruption, as some speculate that fed is behind purchases/manipulation (through proxy) of worthless american paper now being shunned by more rational market players abroad.  MARKETS ROCKED BY LONG OVERDUE BUT STILL MODEST RELATIVE TO REALITY SHARP SLIDE IN DOLLAR...There has never been a time since 1929 when stock prices and p/e ratios were so irrationally high for this point in a bull cycle in this indisputable secular bear market, particularly with the existing unprecedented structural economic problems, ie., trade and budget deficits, worthless dollar, scandals, fraud, corruption , etc.. In fact, unemployment unexpectedly rose substantially and consumer sentiment unexpectedly but similarly realistically fell, both very negative exept in the  fraudulent alice-in-wonderland world of wall street. Indeed, the housing bubble bursting with ie., unexpected 14% decline in starts/permits, etc., led to rally in the fraudulent alice-in-wonderland world of wall street. Obfuscating mergers help preclude detection of this massive and pervasive fraud which defies analysis owing to these mergers. New talking pointing: dell numbers exceed expectations depending upon ongoing government scrutiny of their accounting practices.....riiiiight! More contrived manipulated markets and data well as that previous unexpected rise in that global hub of manufacturing activity, New York (worthless paper is their real product, etc.) …..riiiiight!….. underpins fraudulent up move. Reassuring Fed speak, also known as b**l s**t, along with IPO’s (get the suckers in at the highs as in late 90’s market bubble), and shrugging off pervasive stock/options fraud as at, ie., KB Homes, etc., leave stocks ridiculously higher. Nations leaving the worthless dollar in droves for currencies backed by value and for precious metals. Based on the self-interested statement of typical fraud american and fed rep, we hear once again the wishful thought that housing has bottomed.....right! [Reality/Truth: US housing slump deepens, spreads]. Home depot rallies despite lower than expected results and lower guidance for the year.....right! Who is stupid enough to believe anything the fraudulent criminal americans say. They are printing worthless dollars like mad. Consumer sentiment actually previously fell and there was nothing but wall street lunacy to prop the fraudulent market. The republicans who lockstepped with war criminal dumbya bush deserved to lose. The frauds on wall street now looking for the new corporate welfare program for which to sell the sizzle ie., stem cells, etc.. The know-nothing pundits are now saying the up move without any rational basis is predicated upon the the falsity that gridlock in washington is welcomed and good because no regulation of, ie., fraud on wall street, etc., can be passed. How about a tax on stock trades to come directly from the traders' (traitors/frauds) bottom lines and provide a disincentive for the churn-and-earn fraud which is tantamount to a wasteful tax on the economy. Even token Christian paulison from jew fraud wall street couldn't stem the tide against the blatent zionist/neocon/bush co failure accross the board as the wall street frauds show record profits financed, albeit indirectly, by huge deficits, both trade and budget. Obfuscating mergers blur the picture to provide cover for up move talking points in defiance of reality.  Stagflation and full employment revisions pre-election.....riiiiight. Productivity comes in at a less than expected 0 (inflationary). The only surprise should have been that the number wasn't negative. The pundits are now saying that the market/wall street fraud is in a state of denial regarding economic fundamentals and that the market is substantially overbought, overvalued, overfrauded, over, etc., the manufacturing index coming in lower than expectations. Consumer sentiment unexpectedly fell.....daaaaah. Pre-election core inflation rate report good …..riiiiight…..but savings rate still negative and walmart sales/profits/outlook substantially below expectations but what the heck, they’re wallstreet lunatics/frauds and reality is no problem. Despite pre-election deficit spending, GNP comes in a less than expected paltry 1.6% increase with worthless falling dollar the catch-22 precluding reality avoidance and the worst yet to come. More nations leaving the worthless dollar as reserve currency even as frauds on wall street reach new highs (What are they smoking? Coking? or like the dollar just cracking) based on corporate welfare flows with money the nation doesn't have pre-election (record deficits). Housing prices continue their sharp decline as bubble deflates. GM only lost 115 million. Ford lost 5.8 billion and must restate earnings back to year 2000 is a bullish sign in the fraudulent alice-in-wonderland lunatic world of wall street. Typical pre-fed meeting rally to provide a cushion for any negative pronouncements which reality would require but are seldom forthcoming by the accommodative frauds who have similarly embraced unreality. Indeed, the gutless wimps of wall street think they're "tough" when they fraudulently take the market higher despite a clearly contrary fact based reality. Caterpillar relates the pervasive reality and the frauds on wallstreet intimidate same with sell off, ignoring pervasive options scandal/fraud and rallies Merck despite lower than expectation results.....riiiiight! Election year corporate welfare to prime the pump and the mock stock market with money the nation doesn’t have (increasing already huge deficits). CPI figures (upon which government inflation adjusted payment obligations are based) lower than expected…..riiiiight! Intel earnings/revenues down sharply but according to the lunatic frauds on wall street, beat expectations and stock rallies along with yahoo which as in the pre-dot com bust days says better days are a coming….. riiiiight Core inflation rate which is closely watched by the Fed exceeds all expectations. Fraud Merrill Lynch has really been pushing and commissioning that worthless paper and reports record earnings, despite having produced nothing and for very little if any value added (that ill-gotten money has to come from somewhere-your pockets?). The big economic report awaiting scrutiny was the monthly trade deficit which was expected to narrow but in fact INCREASED to 69.9 billion. The alice-in-wonderland lunatic wall street frauds rallied on the news as the dollar precipitously fell. The Fed Chairman said there is a "substantial correction" in housing, which will probably shave about 1% off growth in the second half of the year. The Institute of Supply Management said its services index fell to 52.9 in September -- the lowest level since April 2003. Great News….. riiiiight!..... Consumer Confidence Higher Than Expected... riiiiight!..... and housing starts were down sharply but not-as-bad-as-expectations game in play US Existing Home Sales Fall 0.5% in August; Sales Price Drops Existing-home prices fall for 1st time in 11 years along with fed jaw-boning pre-election that inflation has been licked .....riiiiight …..despite printing worthless dollars like they’re going out of style because they really are! Fed did nothing and stocks rallied, pre-election.....riiiiight! What about the reality of u.s. debt service at a record unsustainable $2 billion per day on a revolving $2 trillion charge account with ie., China, etc.. The fact that foreclosures are up and that there is projected new trade deficit record, fake government inflation numbers for election year purposes, housing starts down 6% means little to the alice-in-wonderland lunatic frauds of wall street and the so-called pundits including yahoo below. Almost all computerized volume is and must be considered heavy, manipulated, economically wasteful volume [stocks move contrary to rational analytical facts (ie., exceeded lowered expectations, things so bad interest rates can’t rise, exceeded expectations, no earnings but outlook extraordinary, the fed says booo as they print more worthless dollars to finance deficits, etc. ) is money in the bank for the frauds on wall street when they unwind said irrational positions ]. Philadelphia Federal Reserve announces that its broadest measure of manufacturing activity fell to a negative reading for the first time since April 2003, leading economic indicators fall .2%, and previously fell .1% though expected to show an increase, and in addition to the larger than expected 4.1% drop in July existing home sales to its lowest level in over two years and lifted inventories to record levels , new home sales fell 4.3%, and a larger than expected 2.4% decline in July durable orders which are negatives anywhere but in the alice-in-wonderland lunatic world of wall street where same is greeted as good news as also follows with b**l s**t from Yahoo (which didn’t even reference the record unanticipated trade gap):

AT&T Closes BellSouth Deal After FCC OK
AP - AT&T Inc. completed its $86 billion buyout of BellSouth Corp., the largest telecommunications takeover in U.S. history, shortly after the Federal Communications Commission unanimously approved the deal on Friday.

Tax Forms Mailed With Soc. Sec. Numbers AP
Apple Says Options Probe Clears Execs
AP
Chrysler Signs China Car Deal
AP
Oil Prices End 2006 Where They Started
AP

2006 was a very good year for the stock market.  Today, however, was a different story as the market lacked any real spirit due to a virtual dearth of actionable news and sparse attendance by market participants.In expected fashion, the indices spent most of the day confined to tight trading ranges that left them hovering around the unchanged mark.  There was some late-day profit taking, though, that left them near their worst levels of the session.The biggest news of the day was the word from the NYSE that it will be closed on Tuesday in observance of President Ford's death.  The Nasdaq, the commodity markets, and the Federal Reserve will also be closed.  The bond market is going to be open on Tuesday as the U.S. Treasury proceeds with 3-month and 6-month bill auctions, but it will have an early close.This development means that most market participants will get the benefit of a four-day weekend.  That was about the only real note of excitement on a day that was driven mostly by company-specific announcements.  To that end, Apple (AAPL 84.84, +3.97) was a standout after acknowledging that it improperly dated stock options, but that it found no wrongdoing or misconduct by the current management team.Separately, AT&T (T 35.75, +0.25) reportedly made concessions in a bid to gain the FCC's endorsement of its acquisition of BellSouth (BLS 47.11, +0.31).  That news propped up the telecom sector (+0.32%), which was the day's best-performer and the only sector to record a gain.Losses in the remaining sectors were modest in scope, as Energy (-0.94%) earned the label of being the biggest laggard in today's session.  However, the Energy sector closed the year as the second best-performing sector with a gain of 22.6%.  It was beaten out by Telecom Services, which surged 32.5%.2006 Performance Review:  Dow Jones Industrial Average (+16.29%), Nasdaq Composite (+9.52%), S&P 500 (+13.62%); Russell 2000 (+17.00%), S&P 400 Midcap index (+8.98%).DJ30 -38.37 NASDAQ -10.28 SP500 -6.43 NASDAQ Dec/Adv/Vol 1835/1256/1.19 bln NYSE Dec/Adv/Vol 2037/1278/964.8 mln

The current-account trade deficit increased 3.9 percent to an all-time high of $225.6 billion in the July-September quarter, the Commerce Department reported Monday. That third-quarter deficit was equal to 6.8 percent of the total economy, up from 6.6 percent of gross domestic product in the second quarter. The current account is the broadest measure of trade because it tracks not only the flow of goods and services across borders but also investment flows. It represents the amount of money that must be borrowed from foreigners to make up the difference between imports and exports. At current levels, the United States is borrowing more than $2 billion a day from foreigners to finance the trade deficit.

U.S. HOUSING SLUMP DEEPENS, SPREADS
BARRIE MCKENNA Washington — First, Americans quit buying homes. Now, they may have stopped fixing and furnishing them too. Home Depot Inc. reported a 3-per-cent drop in profit in the three months that ended in October, amid mounting evidence that the U.S. housing slump is getting worse. “I don't think we've seen the bottom yet, and I don't see anything that says it's going to get significantly better in 2007,” said Bob Nardelli, Home Depot's chairman and chief executive officer. Mr. Nardelli said job losses in the home construction market are the worst he's seen in 35 years, and the pain is starting to spread to the home renovation market. “The loss of jobs ... in the home construction market is at unprecedented levels,” Mr. Nardelli told analysts on a conference call Tuesday. “Home builders [are] basically writing off earnest money and liquidating land. We're starting to see a lot of that unemployment find its way over to the small repair and remodel contractors.” Problems in the housing sector have also begun to affect how consumers spend their money. In October, U.S. retail sales fell at an annual rate of 0.2 per cent — the third consecutive monthly decline, according to a U.S. Commerce Department report Tuesday. The decline was heavily influenced by lower gasoline prices, which resulted in less revenue for gas stations. But there were also sharp declines in building materials (down 0.3 per cent), furniture (down 0.7 per cent) and department store sales (down 0.7 per cent). Over the past three months, sales of building materials have plunged at an annual rate of 10.6 per cent. “The housing slowdown left its grimy fingerprints all over this report,” BMO Nesbitt Burns economist Douglas Porter said in a note to clients. Lower gasoline prices don't seem to be causing consumers to spend elsewhere, as many economists had predicted. Even if you strip out volatile gas, food and auto sales, all other retail sales rose a meagre 0.1 per cent October. “People are being very cautious,” said Ian Shepherdson, chief North American economist at High Frequency Economics. “The housing crunch is now hurting.” At least two other bellwether U.S. retailers — Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Target Corp. — reported Tuesday that their sales and profit remain strong, in spite of the problems in the housing sector. But executives at Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, acknowledged that sales in the third quarter were disappointing and it is already vowing its biggest-ever discounting binge on items such as toys and electronics to keep cash registers ringing this Christmas. “This season, no one will doubt Wal-Mart's leadership on price and value,” Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott said. Wal-Mart's profit rose to $2.65-billion (U.S.) or 63 cents a share in the third quarter that ended Oct. 31, up from $2.37-billion or 57 cents a year earlier. That was slightly below what analysts had expected, according to Reuters. Sales were up 12 per cent to $83.5-billion. But those figures include sales at newly opened stores and foreign stores. Sales at U.S. stores that have been open at least a year were up just 1.5 per cent, and Mr. Scott said fourth-quarter sales would rise just 1 to 2 per cent.

There is nothing to rationally justify the previous up move or mixed results in the market other than what is tantamount to a negative, and based upon spurious data from the government; ie., fake government numbers said total PPI rose a smaller than expected 0.1% (consensus 0.4%) in July, which was well below the 0.5% jump in June, while the more closely watched core rate (ex-food and energy) unexpectedly (RIIIIIGHT!) fell 0.3% (consensus +0.2%) -- the first decline since October and the largest drop since a 0.5% decline in April 2003. Home Sales Decline in 28 States, D.C.. Real estate prices down/stagnant. But housing stocks…..up.....riiiiight!.....in the fraudulent "alice-in-wonderland" lunatic world of wall street where down is up and up is down.  Martin Crutsinger, AP Economics Writer, previously wrote,” U.S. Trade Deficit Falls 0.3 Percent in June to $64.8B, Offsetting Jump in Chinese Imports. Dell Recall Stems From sony Production Flaw  WASHINGTON (AP) -- America's trade deficit showed a slight improvement as strong global growth pushed U.S. exports to a record level. That helped offset a surge in Chinese imports and record crude oil prices. The deficit declined 0.3 percent in June, compared with May, dropping to $64.8 billion, still the fifth largest imbalance on record, the Commerce Department reported Thursday. The deficit is running at an annual rate of $768 billion through the first six months of this year, putting the country on track to see a fifth straight record imbalance. Last year's deficit was $716.7 billion. Prior considerations remain apposite in this clearly overvalued market. The frauds on wall street feel compelled to continue their tradition/superstition/fraud tactic of buying on the rumor and selling on the news (fact) of the Fed’s temporary pause in rate hikes. You see, the facts/news do not rationally warrant holding dollar based securities/stocks but provide a means to scam the stupid money, to the benefit of the wall street frauds/scammers and smart money.  Yahoo previously commented: Friday was a wild day on Wall Street with early gains fueled by an encouraging July jobs report being wiped away as the return of concern tied to an economic slowdown outweighed the potential of a pause in tightening at Tuesday's Fed meeting. Before the bell, nonfarm payrolls rose a less than expected 113,000 and the unemployment rate rose for the first time since November, suggesting the labor market is losing steam and reinforcing the view that the economy is on track for a soft landing. To wit, fed funds futures were pricing in a 44% chance....., to which I responded, Wild..... I’ll give you wild: GM says their quarterly loss was $3.4 billion and not 3.2 billion as reported; Ford says their loss was $200 million dollars more than they previously reported and will now join gm in worker buyouts; but both GM and Ford will now offer built-in ipods which should substantially help their core business of building cars; meanwhile, options/accounting scandal/subterfuge occurring at the apple ipod (anything but computers) company. Analyst says GM good news now behind it (past/discounted), yet stock still rose upon said analysis …..riiiiight….. daaaaah! Apple Computer Inc. warned Thursday that it may have to revise its profits dating back to 2002 in a worsening stock option scandal, maybe even suspension, that has cast a harsh light on Silicon Valley's compensation practices. Don’t forget that GDP growth slowed substantially and below expectations at 2.5% which in the alice-in-wonderland lunatic world of wall street is of course good news. Stagflation? The fact is that no rational investor would choose dollar based stocks/securities when they could get less risky/liquid (approx.) 5% yielding cds, money market instruments, short-term treasuries/funds, etc.. However it’s not rational investors that are racking up commission dollars trading in and out of stocks like termites eating away at the huge capital funds which they control. Nothing constituting real value would account for the fraudulent rally mode this and other days. Highly leveraged obfuscating mergers/acquisitions, also very commissionable (investment bankers/brokers), and historically have more often than not ended quite badly; oil prices now above $61; yes, as in the last crash, they will get fooled again’ as stocks up sharply in the fraudulent alice-in-wonderland lunatic world of wall street where down is up and up is down. The stock market has never been so backward-looking. Indeed, amazingly, the pundits/analysts are even talking SEASONAL considerations in their fraud in the inducement which is the height of absurdity (such things are discounted well in advance in a rational market). The once objective, fact-oriented Barrons publication has now become a shill for the continuing fraud on wall street. Bush no conservative says Buckley (who also says that in Europe bush’s failed war policies would have required his expected resignation).....daaaaah!; neither are the hillbillies clintons and papa hillbilly bush. CNN's DOBBS BLASTS U.S. ISRAEL POLICY... BUCHANAN: 'Israel policy violates international law, is un-American and un-Christian'... The government is also catching on and playing the “better than expectations” game with the still very substantial deficit numbers, clouded by the use of social security funds used in the general fund rather than allocated for the defacto bankrupt social security system where they belong. ! Remember, leading economic indicators are down .6 percent continuing an ignored (by wall street frauds) downward trend/weakness extending back to the summer, 2005. Options scandal as was inherent in the (fraudulent) dotcom bust is extent and under way in nasdaq particularly. Spotlight on the Stock Option Scandal-The share prices of companies involved in stock options backdating have held up well compared to the broader market. But shareholders might be in for a rougher ride. Plus, why the Nasdaq has its hands full. I previously warned be very skeptical of up-coming government/corporate/collaborative/wall street data inasmuch as they are quite desperate and have proven [ie., illegal Iraq war/occupation, 911 attack(for the neocon contrived pearl harbor effect)/who ordered NORAD to stand down?/who were the pre911(within days) short-sellers?/ and the twin towers implosion, the missile that hit the pentagon precisely in the area that housed the army investigators who announced days before the opening of an investigation into a substantial pentagon fraud, etc.] that the truth is no obstacle when falsity is expedient and the lunatic frauds on wall street will try to tell you what’s up is down and what’s down is up. Lou Dobbs gets paid a lot of money to keep track of such things and doubts the verity of the government numbers. He is riiiiight! The catch-22 is that the defacto bankrupt u.s. is printing worthless paper (so much so that they’ve stopped reporting M3) and borrowing beyond sustainability, which is hyperinflationary despite false government numbers (ie., core inflation number to fraudulently decrease yield to ibond holders, etc.). Higher interest rates to prop worthless dollar and finance deficits inevitable despite wishin', hopin', and lyin’ to the contrary; foreclosures up, housing down, default notices up 67% (particularly in california, ie., orange, la, ventura, counties etc.) nationwide. Don’t forget: the equity in housing has been stripped out of real estate by way of the refinancing boom, which artificially stimulated the economic numbers while ultimately leaving buyers with debt exceeding actual property values. There is substantial downside bias in light of real economic considerations, particularly beyond the moment/trading day given that this bull (s**t) cycle in this indisputable secular bear market is over. Remember: more contrived wasteful commissions to the wall street frauds, the level and percentage of which should be examined in light of computerization and decreased costs attendant to same especially since only A Small Fraction Of What wall street Does Is A Net Positive For The Economy (New Investment Capital), The Rest Is Tantamount To A (Economically) "Wasteful Tax" (On The Economy) via 'churn and earn' computerized programmed trades.

US '.....going bankrupt'
By Edmund Conway, Economics Editor (Filed: 14/07/2006)

The United States is heading for bankruptcy, according to an extraordinary paper published by one of the key members of the country's central bank.

A ballooning budget deficit and a pensions and welfare timebomb could send the economic superpower into insolvency, according to research by Professor Laurence Kotlikoff for the Federal Reserve Bank of St Louis, a leading constituent of the US Federal Reserve.

Prof Kotlikoff said that, by some measures, the US is already bankrupt. "To paraphrase the Oxford English Dictionary, is the United States at the end of its resources, exhausted, stripped bare, destitute, bereft, wanting in property, or wrecked in consequence of failure to pay its creditors," he asked.

According to his central analysis, "the US government is, indeed, bankrupt, insofar as it will be unable to pay its creditors, who, in this context, are current and future generations to whom it has explicitly or implicitly promised future net payments of various kinds''.

The budget deficit in the US is not massive. The Bush administration this week cut its forecasts for the fiscal shortfall this year by almost a third, saying it will come in at 2.3pc of gross domestic product. This is smaller than most European countries - including the UK - which have deficits north of 3pc of GDP.

Prof Kotlikoff, who teaches at Boston University, says: "The proper way to consider a country's solvency is to examine the lifetime fiscal burdens facing current and future generations. If these burdens exceed the resources of those generations, get close to doing so, or simply get so high as to preclude their full collection, the country's policy will be unsustainable and can constitute or lead to national bankruptcy.

"Does the United States fit this bill? No one knows for sure, but there are strong reasons to believe the United States may be going broke."

Experts have calculated that the country's long-term "fiscal gap" between all future government spending and all future receipts will widen immensely as the Baby Boomer generation retires, and as the amount the state will have to spend on healthcare and pensions soars. The total fiscal gap could be an almost incomprehensible $65.9 trillion, according to a study by Professors Gokhale and Smetters.

The figure is massive because President George W Bush has made major tax cuts in recent years, and because the bill for Medicare, which provides health insurance for the elderly, and Medicaid, which does likewise for the poor, will increase greatly due to demographics.

Prof Kotlikoff said: "This figure is more than five times US GDP and almost twice the size of national wealth. One way to wrap one's head around $65.9trillion is to ask what fiscal adjustments are needed to eliminate this red hole. The answers are terrifying. One solution is an immediate and permanent doubling of personal and corporate income taxes. Another is an immediate and permanent two-thirds cut in Social Security and Medicare benefits. A third alternative, were it feasible, would be to immediately and permanently cut all federal discretionary spending by 143pc."

The scenario has serious implications for the dollar. If investors lose confidence in the US's future, and suspect the country may at some point allow inflation to erode away its debts, they may reduce their holdings of US Treasury bonds.

Prof Kotlikoff said: "The United States has experienced high rates of inflation in the past and appears to be running the same type of fiscal policies that engendered hyperinflations in 20 countries over the past century."

UPDATE - Two former NYSE traders found guilty of fraud

Stock market staggers, but investors still may be too optimistic

Commentary: Newsletters react to stock markets' losing week
By Peter Brimelow, MarketWatch  12:04 AM ET Jul 17, 2006
Investors may still be too optimistic
NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- First, a proprietary word: on Friday night, the Hulbert Stock Newsletter Sentiment Index (HSNSI), which reflects the average recommended stock market exposure among a subset of short-term market timing newsletters tracked by the Hulbert Financial Digest, stood at plus-23.8%. This was certainly below the 31.4% it showed on Tuesday night, when Mark Hulbert worried, presciently we must say, that it was too strong from a contrary opinion point of view. But it's still above its 12.6% reading at end of June, although, Mark pointed out, the stock market had declined in the interim. And since Mark wrote, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has had three triple-digit down days.

Not good.

Dow Theory Letters' Richard Russell wrote Friday morning: "If the Dow breaks support at 10,760, I think we could have some nasty action, even some crash-type action." But, perhaps significantly, Russell did not quite hit the panic button when the Dow did indeed close at 10,739 Friday night.

He simply remarked, supporting the contrary opinion view: "Three days in a row with the Dow down over 100 points each day -- you don't see that very often. But still no signs of real fear, no capitulation, no panic -- just down, down, and down. The key consideration here is that there is still no sign of big money coming into this market. In fact, the big money has been leaving this market all year. ... The longer the market continues down without a panic decline, the worse the ultimate panic will be when it arrives."

What is Wrong with the Stock Market?

Dr. Khaled Batarfi

 

John D. Rockefeller was once asked why he decided to sell all his stocks just months before the 1929 Wall Street Crash. He explained: One morning, I was on the way to my office and stopped to have my shoes polished. The guy asked my advice about the shares he bought. If people with this kind of talent were now playing the market, I knew there was something wrong.....

 

U.S. Treasury balances at Fed fell on July 17Tue Jul 18, 2006

WASHINGTON, July 18 (Reuters) - U.S. Treasury balances at the Federal Reserve, based on the Treasury Department's latest budget statement (billions of dollars, except where noted):

              July 17 July 14 (respectively)

Fed acct  4.087 4.935

Tax/loan note acct 10.502 10.155

Cash balance 14.589 15.192

National debt,

subject to limit 8,311.633 8,323.084

The statutory debt limit is $8.965 trillion.

The Treasury said there were $192 million in individual tax refunds and $23 million in corporate tax refunds issued.

End Of The Bubble Bailouts A. Gary Shilling, Insight 08.29.06 - For a quarter-century, Americans’ spending binge has been fueled by a declining savings rate and increased borrowing. The savings rate of American consumers has fallen from 12% in the early 1980s to -1.7% today (see chart below). This means that, on average, consumer spending has risen about a half percentage point more than disposable, or after-tax, income per year for a quarter-century.

The fact that Americans are saving less and less of their after-tax income is only half the profligate consumer story. If someone borrows to buy a car, his savings rate declines because his outlays go up but his disposable income doesn’t. So the downward march in the personal savings rate is closely linked to the upward march in total consumer debt (mortgage, credit card, auto, etc.) in relation to disposable income (see chart below).

Robust consumer spending was fueled first by the soaring stock market of the 1990s and, more recently, by the housing bubble, as house prices departed from their normal close link to the Consumer Price Index (see chart below) and subsequently racked up huge appreciation for homeowners, who continued to save less and spend more. Thanks to accommodative lenders eager to provide refinancings and home equity loans, Americans extracted $719 billion in cash from their houses last year after a $633 billion withdrawal in 2004, according to the Federal Reserve.

But the housing bubble is deflating rapidly. I expect at least a 20% decline in median single-family house prices nationwide, and that number may be way understated. A bursting of the bubble would force many homeowners to curb their outlays in order to close the gaps between their income and spending growth. That would surely precipitate a major recession that would become global, given the dependence of most foreign countries on U.S. consumers to buy the excess goods and services for which they have no other markets.

That is, unless another source of money can bridge the gap between consumer incomes and outlays, just as house appreciation seamlessly took over when stocks nosedived. What could that big new source of money be? And would it be available soon, given the likelihood that house prices will swoon in coming quarters?

One possible source of big, although not immediate, money to sustain consumer spending is inheritance. Some estimates in the 1990s had the postwar babies, who have saved little for their retirement, inheriting between $10 trillion and $41 trillion from their parents in the coming decades. But subsequent work by AARP, using the Federal Reserve’s Survey of Consumer Finances for 2004 and previous years, slashed the total for inheritances of all people alive today to $12 trillion in 2005 dollars. Most of it, $9.2 trillion, will go to pre-boomers born before 1946, only $2.1 trillion to the postwar babies born between 1946 and 1964, and $0.7 trillion to the post-boomers.

Furthermore, the value of all previous inheritances as reported in the 2004 survey was $49,902 on average, with $70,317 for pre-boomers, $48,768 for boomers and $24,348 for post-boomers. Clearly, these are not numbers that provide for comfortable retirements and, therefore, allow people to continue to spend like drunken sailors.

What other assets could consumers borrow against or liquidate to support spending growth in the future? After all, they do have a lot of net worth, almost $54 trillion for households and nonprofit organizations as of the end of the first quarter. Nevertheless, there aren’t any other big assets left to tap. Another big stock bonanza is unlikely for decades, and the real estate bubble is deflating.

Deposits total $6.3 trillion, but the majority, $4.9 trillion worth, is in time and savings deposits, largely held for retirement by financially conservative people. Is it likely that a speculator who owns five houses has sizable time deposits to fall back on? Households and nonprofits hold $3.2 trillion in bonds and other credit market instruments, but most owned by individuals are in conservative hands. Life insurance reserves can be borrowed, but their total size, $1.1 trillion, pales in comparison to the $1.8 trillion that homeowners extracted from their houses in the 2003-2005 years. There’s $6.7 trillion of equity in noncorporate business, but the vast majority of that is needed by typically cash-poor small businesses to keep their doors open.

Pension funds might be a source of cash for consumers who want to live it up now and take the Scarlett O’Hara, “I’ll worry about that tomorrow” attitude toward retirement. They totaled $11.1 trillion in the first quarter, but that number includes public funds and private defined benefit plans that are seldom available to pre-retirees unless they leave their jobs.

The private defined contribution plans, typically 401(k)s, totaled $2.5 trillion in 2004 and have been growing rapidly because employers favor them. But sadly, many employees, especially those at lower income levels, don’t share their bosses’ zeal. Only about 70% participate in their company 401(k) plans and thereby take advantage of company contributions. Lower paid employees are especially absent from participation, with 40% of those making less than $20,000 contributing (60% of those earning $20,000 to $40,000), while 90% of employees earning $100,000 or more participate.

Furthermore, the amount that employees could net from withdrawals from defined contribution plans would be far less than the $2.5 trillion total, probably less than the $1.8 trillion they pulled out of their houses from 2003 to 2005. That $2.5 trillion total includes company contributions that are not yet vested and can’t be withdrawn. Also, withdrawals by those under 59½ years old are subject to a 10% penalty, with income taxes due on the remainder.

With soaring stock portfolios now ancient history and leaping house prices about to be, no other sources, such as inheritance or pension fund withdrawals, are likely to fill the gap between robust consumer spending and weak income growth. Consumer retrenchment and the saving spree I’ve been expecting may finally be about to commence. And the effects on consumer behavior, especially on borrowing and discretionary spending, will be broad and deep.

Analysts' Forecasts and Brokerage-Firm Trading
THE ACCOUNTING REVIEW Vol. 79, No. 1 2004 pp. 125–149 Analysts’ Forecasts and
Brokerage-Firm Trading
Paul J. Irvine Emory University University of Georgia
Collectively, these results suggest that analysts can generate higher trading commissions through their positive stock recommendations than by biasing their forecasts.

WHISPERS OF MERGERS SET OFF BOUTS OF SUSPICIOUS TRADING...
August 27, 2006 NYTimes By GRETCHEN MORGENSONThe boom in corporate mergers is creating concern that illicit trading ahead of deal announcements is becoming a systemic problem.

(12-28-06) Stocks drop still only modestly relative to reality with suckers bear market rally still intact as the wall street fraud continues to suck the suckers in; ie., as the Dow Jones industrial average fell 9.05, S&P fell 2.11 ,and NASDAQ fell 5.65 , all very commissionable on heavy volume, as in final pre-election result push for bush, which fell very short but has provided the same pump-priming of the market as most recently seen in 1999 which ended quite badly even without the exacerbating effects of huge unsustainable and debilitating debt/deficits deferring/delaying/prolonging the inevitable reality even as entire domestic u.s. industries are rendered what is tantamount to defunct and with corporate welfare unwisely spent (war crimes, etc.). More reports in defiance of reality, oil prices up, Dollar Slides..., every intelligent analyst/economist knows that the new home sales number from the government is a total lie that will be revised downward later, that the options scandals are pervasive in fraudulent america (100 investigations just tip of the iceberg), oil stocks continue to rally on lower oil prices, as previously on pipeline explosion in Nigeria, spill in Gulf, and sanctions for Iran, and sharp FALL in oil prices.....riiiiight!.....predictions of disappointing retail sales even with fire-sale discounted prices,..... Highest increase (2%) in 30 years for the wholesale price index, and as well, the core ppi (1.3%), GDP growth less than expected at 2%, dollar sharply lower, oil prices up, building permits down, all unexpectedly bad but great news in the fraudulent alice-in-wonderland lunatic world of wall street. New Record Quarterly Trade Deficit initially spurred lunatic market rally along with obfuscating but very commissionable merger activity. Core inflation a very unexpected unchanged .....riiiiight!.....spurs superstitious, devoid of reality, santa rally.  Investment Banks Post Record 2006 Profit .....daaaaah! Churning and earning on worthless paper, where is that commission dollar coming from even as america has ceded solvency/leadership in every economic measure. Even at the lofty record numbers the indices are worth roughly half their value based on precipitous fall of the dollar in only 5 years with further downside to go. Superstitious ‘Santa Claus rally’.....riiiiight! High oil price rally.....riiiiight!  Total  bulls**t ! Retail sales up a very unexpected 1%, riiiiight, at the same time inventories of such goods rising substantially (do you think they’re booking sales to ‘straw men/companies’.....I do!) and oil inventories down. Fake employment numbers (from the government.....riiiiight!) the impetus for previous b.s. rally despite falling sentiment and uptick in unemployment. The ism services index (financed by unsustainable deficit/debt spending and pushing/commissioning worthless paper) and jawboning/bulls**t from the housing industry (the end is near.....riiiiight!), obfuscating mergers continued to cloud the picture, closely-watched core-PCE deflator had risen a more than expected 0.2%, second sub-50 reading on manufacturing activity in as many sessions-the November ISM index unexpectedly fell to 49.5 (consensus 52.0), Chicago PMI fell to its lowest level (49.9%) in October, and below the 50 level, indicating contraction, crude prices up  (OIL PRICES RISE ABOVE $63 A BARREL...), DOLLAR RESUMES SLIDE, Fed Chairman Bernanke & Co. cheerleading/jawboning/bulls**t, 3.2% decline in new home sales, oil inventories down and oil prices up, oil producers shun the dollar, Russia and Opec shift revenues into euros, yen and sterling..., all very bad news anywhere but in the fraudulent alice-in-wonderland world of wall street. Durable goods orders fell sharply, sentiment down, but supposedly used home sales rose slightly (riiiiight.....who says; the realtors/government who have been talking up this bubble market?) albeit at sharply lower prices. DOLLAR PLUNGES TO NEAR 15-YEAR LOW  In other words, no good news to justify the ridiculous up move by the alice-in-wonderland frauds of wall street. Worthless dollar, triple deficits, stock/options scandals/corruption, as some speculate that fed is behind purchases/manipulation (through proxy) of worthless american paper now being shunned by more rational market players abroad.  MARKETS ROCKED BY LONG OVERDUE BUT STILL MODEST RELATIVE TO REALITY SHARP SLIDE IN DOLLAR...There has never been a time since 1929 when stock prices and p/e ratios were so irrationally high for this point in a bull cycle in this indisputable secular bear market, particularly with the existing unprecedented structural economic problems, ie., trade and budget deficits, worthless dollar, scandals, fraud, corruption , etc.. In fact, unemployment unexpectedly rose substantially and consumer sentiment unexpectedly but similarly realistically fell, both very negative exept in the  fraudulent alice-in-wonderland world of wall street. Indeed, the housing bubble bursting with ie., unexpected 14% decline in starts/permits, etc., led to rally in the fraudulent alice-in-wonderland world of wall street. Obfuscating mergers help preclude detection of this massive and pervasive fraud which defies analysis owing to these mergers. New talking pointing: dell numbers exceed expectations depending upon ongoing government scrutiny of their accounting practices.....riiiiight! More contrived manipulated markets and data well as that previous unexpected rise in that global hub of manufacturing activity, New York (worthless paper is their real product, etc.) …..riiiiight!….. underpins fraudulent up move. Reassuring Fed speak, also known as b**l s**t, along with IPO’s (get the suckers in at the highs as in late 90’s market bubble), and shrugging off pervasive stock/options fraud as at, ie., KB Homes, etc., leave stocks ridiculously higher. Nations leaving the worthless dollar in droves for currencies backed by value and for precious metals. Based on the self-interested statement of typical fraud american and fed rep, we hear once again the wishful thought that housing has bottomed.....right! [Reality/Truth: US housing slump deepens, spreads]. Home depot rallies despite lower than expected results and lower guidance for the year.....right! Who is stupid enough to believe anything the fraudulent criminal americans say. They are printing worthless dollars like mad. Consumer sentiment actually previously fell and there was nothing but wall street lunacy to prop the fraudulent market. The republicans who lockstepped with war criminal dumbya bush deserved to lose. The frauds on wall street now looking for the new corporate welfare program for which to sell the sizzle ie., stem cells, etc.. The know-nothing pundits are now saying the up move without any rational basis is predicated upon the the falsity that gridlock in washington is welcomed and good because no regulation of, ie., fraud on wall street, etc., can be passed. How about a tax on stock trades to come directly from the traders' (traitors/frauds) bottom lines and provide a disincentive for the churn-and-earn fraud which is tantamount to a wasteful tax on the economy. Even token Christian paulison from jew fraud wall street couldn't stem the tide against the blatent zionist/neocon/bush co failure accross the board as the wall street frauds show record profits financed, albeit indirectly, by huge deficits, both trade and budget. Obfuscating mergers blur the picture to provide cover for up move talking points in defiance of reality.  Stagflation and full employment revisions pre-election.....riiiiight. Productivity comes in at a less than expected 0 (inflationary). The only surprise should have been that the number wasn't negative. The pundits are now saying that the market/wall street fraud is in a state of denial regarding economic fundamentals and that the market is substantially overbought, overvalued, overfrauded, over, etc., the manufacturing index coming in lower than expectations. Consumer sentiment unexpectedly fell.....daaaaah. Pre-election core inflation rate report good …..riiiiight…..but savings rate still negative and walmart sales/profits/outlook substantially below expectations but what the heck, they’re wallstreet lunatics/frauds and reality is no problem. Despite pre-election deficit spending, GNP comes in a less than expected paltry 1.6% increase with worthless falling dollar the catch-22 precluding reality avoidance and the worst yet to come. More nations leaving the worthless dollar as reserve currency even as frauds on wall street reach new highs (What are they smoking? Coking? or like the dollar just cracking) based on corporate welfare flows with money the nation doesn't have pre-election (record deficits). Housing prices continue their sharp decline as bubble deflates. GM only lost 115 million. Ford lost 5.8 billion and must restate earnings back to year 2000 is a bullish sign in the fraudulent alice-in-wonderland lunatic world of wall street. Typical pre-fed meeting rally to provide a cushion for any negative pronouncements which reality would require but are seldom forthcoming by the accommodative frauds who have similarly embraced unreality. Indeed, the gutless wimps of wall street think they're "tough" when they fraudulently take the market higher despite a clearly contrary fact based reality. Caterpillar relates the pervasive reality and the frauds on wallstreet intimidate same with sell off, ignoring pervasive options scandal/fraud and rallies Merck despite lower than expectation results.....riiiiight! Election year corporate welfare to prime the pump and the mock stock market with money the nation doesn’t have (increasing already huge deficits). CPI figures (upon which government inflation adjusted payment obligations are based) lower than expected…..riiiiight! Intel earnings/revenues down sharply but according to the lunatic frauds on wall street, beat expectations and stock rallies along with yahoo which as in the pre-dot com bust days says better days are a coming….. riiiiight Core inflation rate which is closely watched by the Fed exceeds all expectations. Fraud Merrill Lynch has really been pushing and commissioning that worthless paper and reports record earnings, despite having produced nothing and for very little if any value added (that ill-gotten money has to come from somewhere-your pockets?). The big economic report awaiting scrutiny was the monthly trade deficit which was expected to narrow but in fact INCREASED to 69.9 billion. The alice-in-wonderland lunatic wall street frauds rallied on the news as the dollar precipitously fell. The Fed Chairman said there is a "substantial correction" in housing, which will probably shave about 1% off growth in the second half of the year. The Institute of Supply Management said its services index fell to 52.9 in September -- the lowest level since April 2003. Great News….. riiiiight!..... Consumer Confidence Higher Than Expected... riiiiight!..... and housing starts were down sharply but not-as-bad-as-expectations game in play US Existing Home Sales Fall 0.5% in August; Sales Price Drops Existing-home prices fall for 1st time in 11 years along with fed jaw-boning pre-election that inflation has been licked .....riiiiight …..despite printing worthless dollars like they’re going out of style because they really are! Fed did nothing and stocks rallied, pre-election.....riiiiight! What about the reality of u.s. debt service at a record unsustainable $2 billion per day on a revolving $2 trillion charge account with ie., China, etc.. The fact that foreclosures are up and that there is projected new trade deficit record, fake government inflation numbers for election year purposes, housing starts down 6% means little to the alice-in-wonderland lunatic frauds of wall street and the so-called pundits including yahoo below. Almost all computerized volume is and must be considered heavy, manipulated, economically wasteful volume [stocks move contrary to rational analytical facts (ie., exceeded lowered expectations, things so bad interest rates can’t rise, exceeded expectations, no earnings but outlook extraordinary, the fed says booo as they print more worthless dollars to finance deficits, etc. ) is money in the bank for the frauds on wall street when they unwind said irrational positions ]. Philadelphia Federal Reserve announces that its broadest measure of manufacturing activity fell to a negative reading for the first time since April 2003, leading economic indicators fall .2%, and previously fell .1% though expected to show an increase, and in addition to the larger than expected 4.1% drop in July existing home sales to its lowest level in over two years and lifted inventories to record levels , new home sales fell 4.3%, and a larger than expected 2.4% decline in July durable orders which are negatives anywhere but in the alice-in-wonderland lunatic world of wall street where same is greeted as good news as also follows with b**l s**t from Yahoo (which didn’t even reference the record unanticipated trade gap):

Dow Closes Above 12,500 for First Time
AP - Wall Street surged higher Wednesday, hurtling the Dow Jones industrials past 12,500 for the first time as year-end bargain hunters picked up stocks across a variety of sectors.

United Launches Post-Holiday Fare Sale AP
Oil Prices Drop Due to Depressed Demand
AP
Markets Have Moments of Silence for Ford
AP
New Home Sales Climb 3.4 Percent in Nov.
AP

Stocks rallied Wednesday as year-end seasonality, oil prices hitting one-month lows and more confirmation that the housing market is stabilizing kept the Santa Claus rally intact. Six of the Dow 30 finishing at new 52-week highs, with only three trading days left until 2006 comes to a close, also helped power the Dow to a new record close. The S&P 500 closed at a fresh six-year high, getting help from gains in virtually every (138 of 147) industry group.With no companies scheduled to report earnings today and concerns still lingering about whether weakness in the housing market will adversely impact consumer spending, investors keyed in on today's only scheduled report to see just how well the U.S. economy is holding up. Then, with yesterday's recovery efforts already carrying over into this morning's opening bell, encouraging housing data provided an additional spark for the bulls wanting more and exacerbated the bears' reluctance to fight historical trends.At 10:00 ET, the Commerce Dept. showed that sales of new homes rose 3.5% in November to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.047 mln (consensus 1.015 mln) while median sales prices rose 5.8% from a year ago. Even though not too much emphasis should be placed on median sales prices, the fact that they rose for a second straight month (and/or did not decline) helped to alleviate worries that the downshift in house price appreciation may spill over into consumer spending.While more proof that the U.S. economy is withstanding the "substantial correction" in housing took a toll on Treasuries, the most notable surprise was the rate-sensitive Financials sector's resilience in the face of higher borrowing costs. The yield on the 10-year note (-13/32) rose to 4.65%, a five-week high. Examples of strength were Citigroup (C 56.42 +1.30), which surged 2.4% to a new record, while fellow Dow component JP Morgan Chase (JPM 48.95 +0.64) climbed 1.3% to an intraday 52-week high.Another notable sector shrugging off weakness in an instrument directly tied to the ability to generate earnings was Energy. Despite oil prices tacking a 1.2% decline onto yesterday's 2.1% sell-off, Energy eventually surpassed Telecom to log the day's best performance among the 10 sectors closing higher. Telecom is up nearly 31% for the year while Energy ranks second with a 23% year-to-date advance.Technology, which ranks second in terms of influence behind Financials, was another bright spot today. IBM (IBM 97.20 +1.54) climbing 1.6% to its best levels of the year and fellow Dow component Hewlett-Packard (HPQ 41.60 +0.67) also surging 1.6% to a multi-year high provided some notable leadership. Some bargain-hunting interest in Intel Corp (INTC 20.40 +0.25), this year's worst performing Dow component (-17%), and Apple Computer (AAPL 81.52 +0.01) erasing an intraday decline of nearly 6% Apple offered additional sources of sector support.As was the case yesterday, though, thin volumes offered little conviction behind another day of broad-based buying efforts. BTK +0.3% DJ30 +102.94 DJTA +1.1% DJUA +0.3% DOT +1.0% NASDAQ +17.71 NQ100 +0.6% R2K +1.2% SOX +0.5% SP400 +0.9% SP500 +9.94 XOI +1.2% NASDAQ Dec/Adv/Vol 900/2175/1.23 bln NYSE Dec/Adv/Vol 727/2593/924 mln

The current-account trade deficit increased 3.9 percent to an all-time high of $225.6 billion in the July-September quarter, the Commerce Department reported Monday. That third-quarter deficit was equal to 6.8 percent of the total economy, up from 6.6 percent of gross domestic product in the second quarter. The current account is the broadest measure of trade because it tracks not only the flow of goods and services across borders but also investment flows. It represents the amount of money that must be borrowed from foreigners to make up the difference between imports and exports. At current levels, the United States is borrowing more than $2 billion a day from foreigners to finance the trade deficit.

U.S. HOUSING SLUMP DEEPENS, SPREADS
BARRIE MCKENNA Washington — First, Americans quit buying homes. Now, they may have stopped fixing and furnishing them too. Home Depot Inc. reported a 3-per-cent drop in profit in the three months that ended in October, amid mounting evidence that the U.S. housing slump is getting worse. “I don't think we've seen the bottom yet, and I don't see anything that says it's going to get significantly better in 2007,” said Bob Nardelli, Home Depot's chairman and chief executive officer. Mr. Nardelli said job losses in the home construction market are the worst he's seen in 35 years, and the pain is starting to spread to the home renovation market. “The loss of jobs ... in the home construction market is at unprecedented levels,” Mr. Nardelli told analysts on a conference call Tuesday. “Home builders [are] basically writing off earnest money and liquidating land. We're starting to see a lot of that unemployment find its way over to the small repair and remodel contractors.” Problems in the housing sector have also begun to affect how consumers spend their money. In October, U.S. retail sales fell at an annual rate of 0.2 per cent — the third consecutive monthly decline, according to a U.S. Commerce Department report Tuesday. The decline was heavily influenced by lower gasoline prices, which resulted in less revenue for gas stations. But there were also sharp declines in building materials (down 0.3 per cent), furniture (down 0.7 per cent) and department store sales (down 0.7 per cent). Over the past three months, sales of building materials have plunged at an annual rate of 10.6 per cent. “The housing slowdown left its grimy fingerprints all over this report,” BMO Nesbitt Burns economist Douglas Porter said in a note to clients. Lower gasoline prices don't seem to be causing consumers to spend elsewhere, as many economists had predicted. Even if you strip out volatile gas, food and auto sales, all other retail sales rose a meagre 0.1 per cent October. “People are being very cautious,” said Ian Shepherdson, chief North American economist at High Frequency Economics. “The housing crunch is now hurting.” At least two other bellwether U.S. retailers — Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Target Corp. — reported Tuesday that their sales and profit remain strong, in spite of the problems in the housing sector. But executives at Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, acknowledged that sales in the third quarter were disappointing and it is already vowing its biggest-ever discounting binge on items such as toys and electronics to keep cash registers ringing this Christmas. “This season, no one will doubt Wal-Mart's leadership on price and value,” Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott said. Wal-Mart's profit rose to $2.65-billion (U.S.) or 63 cents a share in the third quarter that ended Oct. 31, up from $2.37-billion or 57 cents a year earlier. That was slightly below what analysts had expected, according to Reuters. Sales were up 12 per cent to $83.5-billion. But those figures include sales at newly opened stores and foreign stores. Sales at U.S. stores that have been open at least a year were up just 1.5 per cent, and Mr. Scott said fourth-quarter sales would rise just 1 to 2 per cent.

There is nothing to rationally justify the previous up move or mixed results in the market other than what is tantamount to a negative, and based upon spurious data from the government; ie., fake government numbers said total PPI rose a smaller than expected 0.1% (consensus 0.4%) in July, which was well below the 0.5% jump in June, while the more closely watched core rate (ex-food and energy) unexpectedly (RIIIIIGHT!) fell 0.3% (consensus +0.2%) -- the first decline since October and the largest drop since a 0.5% decline in April 2003. Home Sales Decline in 28 States, D.C.. Real estate prices down/stagnant. But housing stocks…..up.....riiiiight!.....in the fraudulent "alice-in-wonderland" lunatic world of wall street where down is up and up is down.  Martin Crutsinger, AP Economics Writer, previously wrote,” U.S. Trade Deficit Falls 0.3 Percent in June to $64.8B, Offsetting Jump in Chinese Imports. Dell Recall Stems From sony Production Flaw  WASHINGTON (AP) -- America's trade deficit showed a slight improvement as strong global growth pushed U.S. exports to a record level. That helped offset a surge in Chinese imports and record crude oil prices. The deficit declined 0.3 percent in June, compared with May, dropping to $64.8 billion, still the fifth largest imbalance on record, the Commerce Department reported Thursday. The deficit is running at an annual rate of $768 billion through the first six months of this year, putting the country on track to see a fifth straight record imbalance. Last year's deficit was $716.7 billion. Prior considerations remain apposite in this clearly overvalued market. The frauds on wall street feel compelled to continue their tradition/superstition/fraud tactic of buying on the rumor and selling on the news (fact) of the Fed’s temporary pause in rate hikes. You see, the facts/news do not rationally warrant holding dollar based securities/stocks but provide a means to scam the stupid money, to the benefit of the wall street frauds/scammers and smart money.  Yahoo previously commented: Friday was a wild day on Wall Street with early gains fueled by an encouraging July jobs report being wiped away as the return of concern tied to an economic slowdown outweighed the potential of a pause in tightening at Tuesday's Fed meeting. Before the bell, nonfarm payrolls rose a less than expected 113,000 and the unemployment rate rose for the first time since November, suggesting the labor market is losing steam and reinforcing the view that the economy is on track for a soft landing. To wit, fed funds futures were pricing in a 44% chance....., to which I responded, Wild..... I’ll give you wild: GM says their quarterly loss was $3.4 billion and not 3.2 billion as reported; Ford says their loss was $200 million dollars more than they previously reported and will now join gm in worker buyouts; but both GM and Ford will now offer built-in ipods which should substantially help their core business of building cars; meanwhile, options/accounting scandal/subterfuge occurring at the apple ipod (anything but computers) company. Analyst says GM good news now behind it (past/discounted), yet stock still rose upon said analysis …..riiiiight….. daaaaah! Apple Computer Inc. warned Thursday that it may have to revise its profits dating back to 2002 in a worsening stock option scandal, maybe even suspension, that has cast a harsh light on Silicon Valley's compensation practices. Don’t forget that GDP growth slowed substantially and below expectations at 2.5% which in the alice-in-wonderland lunatic world of wall street is of course good news. Stagflation? The fact is that no rational investor would choose dollar based stocks/securities when they could get less risky/liquid (approx.) 5% yielding cds, money market instruments, short-term treasuries/funds, etc.. However it’s not rational investors that are racking up commission dollars trading in and out of stocks like termites eating away at the huge capital funds which they control. Nothing constituting real value would account for the fraudulent rally mode this and other days. Highly leveraged obfuscating mergers/acquisitions, also very commissionable (investment bankers/brokers), and historically have more often than not ended quite badly; oil prices now above $60; yes, as in the last crash, they will get fooled again’ as stocks up sharply in the fraudulent alice-in-wonderland lunatic world of wall street where down is up and up is down. The stock market has never been so backward-looking. Indeed, amazingly, the pundits/analysts are even talking SEASONAL considerations in their fraud in the inducement which is the height of absurdity (such things are discounted well in advance in a rational market). The once objective, fact-oriented Barrons publication has now become a shill for the continuing fraud on wall street. Bush no conservative says Buckley (who also says that in Europe bush’s failed war policies would have required his expected resignation).....daaaaah!; neither are the hillbillies clintons and papa hillbilly bush. CNN's DOBBS BLASTS U.S. ISRAEL POLICY... BUCHANAN: 'Israel policy violates international law, is un-American and un-Christian'... The government is also catching on and playing the “better than expectations” game with the still very substantial deficit numbers, clouded by the use of social security funds used in the general fund rather than allocated for the defacto bankrupt social security system where they belong. ! Remember, leading economic indicators are down .6 percent continuing an ignored (by wall street frauds) downward trend/weakness extending back to the summer, 2005. Options scandal as was inherent in the (fraudulent) dotcom bust is extent and under way in nasdaq particularly. Spotlight on the Stock Option Scandal-The share prices of companies involved in stock options backdating have held up well compared to the broader market. But shareholders might be in for a rougher ride. Plus, why the Nasdaq has its hands full. I previously warned be very skeptical of up-coming government/corporate/collaborative/wall street data inasmuch as they are quite desperate and have proven [ie., illegal Iraq war/occupation, 911 attack(for the neocon contrived pearl harbor effect)/who ordered NORAD to stand down?/who were the pre911(within days) short-sellers?/ and the twin towers implosion, the missile that hit the pentagon precisely in the area that housed the army investigators who announced days before the opening of an investigation into a substantial pentagon fraud, etc.] that the truth is no obstacle when falsity is expedient and the lunatic frauds on wall street will try to tell you what’s up is down and what’s down is up. Lou Dobbs gets paid a lot of money to keep track of such things and doubts the verity of the government numbers. He is riiiiight! The catch-22 is that the defacto bankrupt u.s. is printing worthless paper (so much so that they’ve stopped reporting M3) and borrowing beyond sustainability, which is hyperinflationary despite false government numbers (ie., core inflation number to fraudulently decrease yield to ibond holders, etc.). Higher interest rates to prop worthless dollar and finance deficits inevitable despite wishin', hopin', and lyin’ to the contrary; foreclosures up, housing down, default notices up 67% (particularly in california, ie., orange, la, ventura, counties etc.) nationwide. Don’t forget: the equity in housing has been stripped out of real estate by way of the refinancing boom, which artificially stimulated the economic numbers while ultimately leaving buyers with debt exceeding actual property values. There is substantial downside bias in light of real economic considerations, particularly beyond the moment/trading day given that this bull (s**t) cycle in this indisputable secular bear market is over. Remember: more contrived wasteful commissions to the wall street frauds, the level and percentage of which should be examined in light of computerization and decreased costs attendant to same especially since only A Small Fraction Of What wall street Does Is A Net Positive For The Economy (New Investment Capital), The Rest Is Tantamount To A (Economically) "Wasteful Tax" (On The Economy) via 'churn and earn' computerized programmed trades.

US '.....going bankrupt'
By Edmund Conway, Economics Editor (Filed: 14/07/2006)

The United States is heading for bankruptcy, according to an extraordinary paper published by one of the key members of the country's central bank.

A ballooning budget deficit and a pensions and welfare timebomb could send the economic superpower into insolvency, according to research by Professor Laurence Kotlikoff for the Federal Reserve Bank of St Louis, a leading constituent of the US Federal Reserve.

Prof Kotlikoff said that, by some measures, the US is already bankrupt. "To paraphrase the Oxford English Dictionary, is the United States at the end of its resources, exhausted, stripped bare, destitute, bereft, wanting in property, or wrecked in consequence of failure to pay its creditors," he asked.

According to his central analysis, "the US government is, indeed, bankrupt, insofar as it will be unable to pay its creditors, who, in this context, are current and future generations to whom it has explicitly or implicitly promised future net payments of various kinds''.

The budget deficit in the US is not massive. The Bush administration this week cut its forecasts for the fiscal shortfall this year by almost a third, saying it will come in at 2.3pc of gross domestic product. This is smaller than most European countries - including the UK - which have deficits north of 3pc of GDP.

Prof Kotlikoff, who teaches at Boston University, says: "The proper way to consider a country's solvency is to examine the lifetime fiscal burdens facing current and future generations. If these burdens exceed the resources of those generations, get close to doing so, or simply get so high as to preclude their full collection, the country's policy will be unsustainable and can constitute or lead to national bankruptcy.

"Does the United States fit this bill? No one knows for sure, but there are strong reasons to believe the United States may be going broke."

Experts have calculated that the country's long-term "fiscal gap" between all future government spending and all future receipts will widen immensely as the Baby Boomer generation retires, and as the amount the state will have to spend on healthcare and pensions soars. The total fiscal gap could be an almost incomprehensible $65.9 trillion, according to a study by Professors Gokhale and Smetters.

The figure is massive because President George W Bush has made major tax cuts in recent years, and because the bill for Medicare, which provides health insurance for the elderly, and Medicaid, which does likewise for the poor, will increase greatly due to demographics.

Prof Kotlikoff said: "This figure is more than five times US GDP and almost twice the size of national wealth. One way to wrap one's head around $65.9trillion is to ask what fiscal adjustments are needed to eliminate this red hole. The answers are terrifying. One solution is an immediate and permanent doubling of personal and corporate income taxes. Another is an immediate and permanent two-thirds cut in Social Security and Medicare benefits. A third alternative, were it feasible, would be to immediately and permanently cut all federal discretionary spending by 143pc."

The scenario has serious implications for the dollar. If investors lose confidence in the US's future, and suspect the country may at some point allow inflation to erode away its debts, they may reduce their holdings of US Treasury bonds.

Prof Kotlikoff said: "The United States has experienced high rates of inflation in the past and appears to be running the same type of fiscal policies that engendered hyperinflations in 20 countries over the past century."

UPDATE - Two former NYSE traders found guilty of fraud

Stock market staggers, but investors still may be too optimistic

Commentary: Newsletters react to stock markets' losing week
By Peter Brimelow, MarketWatch  12:04 AM ET Jul 17, 2006
Investors may still be too optimistic
NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- First, a proprietary word: on Friday night, the Hulbert Stock Newsletter Sentiment Index (HSNSI), which reflects the average recommended stock market exposure among a subset of short-term market timing newsletters tracked by the Hulbert Financial Digest, stood at plus-23.8%. This was certainly below the 31.4% it showed on Tuesday night, when Mark Hulbert worried, presciently we must say, that it was too strong from a contrary opinion point of view. But it's still above its 12.6% reading at end of June, although, Mark pointed out, the stock market had declined in the interim. And since Mark wrote, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has had three triple-digit down days.

Not good.

Dow Theory Letters' Richard Russell wrote Friday morning: "If the Dow breaks support at 10,760, I think we could have some nasty action, even some crash-type action." But, perhaps significantly, Russell did not quite hit the panic button when the Dow did indeed close at 10,739 Friday night.

He simply remarked, supporting the contrary opinion view: "Three days in a row with the Dow down over 100 points each day -- you don't see that very often. But still no signs of real fear, no capitulation, no panic -- just down, down, and down. The key consideration here is that there is still no sign of big money coming into this market. In fact, the big money has been leaving this market all year. ... The longer the market continues down without a panic decline, the worse the ultimate panic will be when it arrives."

What is Wrong with the Stock Market?

Dr. Khaled Batarfi

 

John D. Rockefeller was once asked why he decided to sell all his stocks just months before the 1929 Wall Street Crash. He explained: One morning, I was on the way to my office and stopped to have my shoes polished. The guy asked my advice about the shares he bought. If people with this kind of talent were now playing the market, I knew there was something wrong.....

 

U.S. Treasury balances at Fed fell on July 17Tue Jul 18, 2006

WASHINGTON, July 18 (Reuters) - U.S. Treasury balances at the Federal Reserve, based on the Treasury Department's latest budget statement (billions of dollars, except where noted):

              July 17 July 14 (respectively)

Fed acct  4.087 4.935

Tax/loan note acct 10.502 10.155

Cash balance 14.589 15.192

National debt,

subject to limit 8,311.633 8,323.084

The statutory debt limit is $8.965 trillion.

The Treasury said there were $192 million in individual tax refunds and $23 million in corporate tax refunds issued.

End Of The Bubble Bailouts A. Gary Shilling, Insight 08.29.06 - For a quarter-century, Americans’ spending binge has been fueled by a declining savings rate and increased borrowing. The savings rate of American consumers has fallen from 12% in the early 1980s to -1.7% today (see chart below). This means that, on average, consumer spending has risen about a half percentage point more than disposable, or after-tax, income per year for a quarter-century.

The fact that Americans are saving less and less of their after-tax income is only half the profligate consumer story. If someone borrows to buy a car, his savings rate declines because his outlays go up but his disposable income doesn’t. So the downward march in the personal savings rate is closely linked to the upward march in total consumer debt (mortgage, credit card, auto, etc.) in relation to disposable income (see chart below).

Robust consumer spending was fueled first by the soaring stock market of the 1990s and, more recently, by the housing bubble, as house prices departed from their normal close link to the Consumer Price Index (see chart below) and subsequently racked up huge appreciation for homeowners, who continued to save less and spend more. Thanks to accommodative lenders eager to provide refinancings and home equity loans, Americans extracted $719 billion in cash from their houses last year after a $633 billion withdrawal in 2004, according to the Federal Reserve.

But the housing bubble is deflating rapidly. I expect at least a 20% decline in median single-family house prices nationwide, and that number may be way understated. A bursting of the bubble would force many homeowners to curb their outlays in order to close the gaps between their income and spending growth. That would surely precipitate a major recession that would become global, given the dependence of most foreign countries on U.S. consumers to buy the excess goods and services for which they have no other markets.

That is, unless another source of money can bridge the gap between consumer incomes and outlays, just as house appreciation seamlessly took over when stocks nosedived. What could that big new source of money be? And would it be available soon, given the likelihood that house prices will swoon in coming quarters?

One possible source of big, although not immediate, money to sustain consumer spending is inheritance. Some estimates in the 1990s had the postwar babies, who have saved little for their retirement, inheriting between $10 trillion and $41 trillion from their parents in the coming decades. But subsequent work by AARP, using the Federal Reserve’s Survey of Consumer Finances for 2004 and previous years, slashed the total for inheritances of all people alive today to $12 trillion in 2005 dollars. Most of it, $9.2 trillion, will go to pre-boomers born before 1946, only $2.1 trillion to the postwar babies born between 1946 and 1964, and $0.7 trillion to the post-boomers.

Furthermore, the value of all previous inheritances as reported in the 2004 survey was $49,902 on average, with $70,317 for pre-boomers, $48,768 for boomers and $24,348 for post-boomers. Clearly, these are not numbers that provide for comfortable retirements and, therefore, allow people to continue to spend like drunken sailors.

What other assets could consumers borrow against or liquidate to support spending growth in the future? After all, they do have a lot of net worth, almost $54 trillion for households and nonprofit organizations as of the end of the first quarter. Nevertheless, there aren’t any other big assets left to tap. Another big stock bonanza is unlikely for decades, and the real estate bubble is deflating.

Deposits total $6.3 trillion, but the majority, $4.9 trillion worth, is in time and savings deposits, largely held for retirement by financially conservative people. Is it likely that a speculator who owns five houses has sizable time deposits to fall back on? Households and nonprofits hold $3.2 trillion in bonds and other credit market instruments, but most owned by individuals are in conservative hands. Life insurance reserves can be borrowed, but their total size, $1.1 trillion, pales in comparison to the $1.8 trillion that homeowners extracted from their houses in the 2003-2005 years. There’s $6.7 trillion of equity in noncorporate business, but the vast majority of that is needed by typically cash-poor small businesses to keep their doors open.

Pension funds might be a source of cash for consumers who want to live it up now and take the Scarlett O’Hara, “I’ll worry about that tomorrow” attitude toward retirement. They totaled $11.1 trillion in the first quarter, but that number includes public funds and private defined benefit plans that are seldom available to pre-retirees unless they leave their jobs.

The private defined contribution plans, typically 401(k)s, totaled $2.5 trillion in 2004 and have been growing rapidly because employers favor them. But sadly, many employees, especially those at lower income levels, don’t share their bosses’ zeal. Only about 70% participate in their company 401(k) plans and thereby take advantage of company contributions. Lower paid employees are especially absent from participation, with 40% of those making less than $20,000 contributing (60% of those earning $20,000 to $40,000), while 90% of employees earning $100,000 or more participate.

Furthermore, the amount that employees could net from withdrawals from defined contribution plans would be far less than the $2.5 trillion total, probably less than the $1.8 trillion they pulled out of their houses from 2003 to 2005. That $2.5 trillion total includes company contributions that are not yet vested and can’t be withdrawn. Also, withdrawals by those under 59½ years old are subject to a 10% penalty, with income taxes due on the remainder.

With soaring stock portfolios now ancient history and leaping house prices about to be, no other sources, such as inheritance or pension fund withdrawals, are likely to fill the gap between robust consumer spending and weak income growth. Consumer retrenchment and the saving spree I’ve been expecting may finally be about to commence. And the effects on consumer behavior, especially on borrowing and discretionary spending, will be broad and deep.

Analysts' Forecasts and Brokerage-Firm Trading
THE ACCOUNTING REVIEW Vol. 79, No. 1 2004 pp. 125–149 Analysts’ Forecasts and
Brokerage-Firm Trading
Paul J. Irvine Emory University University of Georgia
Collectively, these results suggest that analysts can generate higher trading commissions through their positive stock recommendations than by biasing their forecasts.

WHISPERS OF MERGERS SET OFF BOUTS OF SUSPICIOUS TRADING...
August 27, 2006 NYTimes By GRETCHEN MORGENSONThe boom in corporate mergers is creating concern that illicit trading ahead of deal announcements is becoming a systemic problem.

(12-27-06) Roaring suckers bear market rally is nothing less than a defacto fraud by the lunatic frauds on wall street to suck the suckers in; ie., as the Dow Jones industrial average up 102, Standard & Poor's 500 index up 9, and the Nasdaq composite index up 17, all very commissionable on heavy volume as in final pre-election result push for bush, which fell very short, but has provided the same pump-priming of the market as most recently seen in 1999 which ended quite badly even without the exacerbating effects of huge unsustainable and debilitating debt/deficits deferring/delaying/prolonging the inevitable reality even as entire domestic u.s. industries are rendered defunct and with corporate welfare unwisely spent (war crimes, etc.). Every intelligent analyst/economist knows that the new home sales number from the government is a total lie that will be revised downward later (permits down, inventories up, etc.), that the options scandals are pervasive in fraudulent america (100 investigations just tip of the iceberg), oil stocks continue to rally on lower oil prices, as previously on pipeline explosion in Nigeria, spill in Gulf, and sanctions for Iran, and sharp FALL in oil prices.....riiiiight!.....predictions of disappointing retail sales even with fire-sale discounted prices,..... Highest increase (2%) in 30 years for the wholesale price index, and as well, the core ppi (1.3%), GDP growth less than expected at 2%, dollar sharply lower, oil prices up, building permits down, all unexpectedly bad but great news in the fraudulent alice-in-wonderland lunatic world of wall street. New Record Quarterly Trade Deficit initially spurred lunatic market rally along with obfuscating but very commissionable merger activity. Core inflation a very unexpected unchanged .....riiiiight!.....spurs superstitious, devoid of reality, santa rally.  Investment Banks Post Record 2006 Profit .....daaaaah! Churning and earning on worthless paper, where is that commission dollar coming from even as america has ceded solvency/leadership in every economic measure. Even at the lofty record numbers the indices are worth roughly half their value based on precipitous fall of the dollar in only 5 years with further downside to go. Superstitious ‘Santa Claus rally’.....riiiiight! High oil price rally.....riiiiight!  Total  bulls**t ! Retail sales up a very unexpected 1%, riiiiight, at the same time inventories of such goods rising substantially (do you think they’re booking sales to ‘straw men/companies’.....I do!) and oil inventories down. Fake employment numbers (from the government.....riiiiight!) the impetus for previous b.s. rally despite falling sentiment and uptick in unemployment. The ism services index (financed by unsustainable deficit/debt spending and pushing/commissioning worthless paper) and jawboning/bulls**t from the housing industry (the end is near.....riiiiight!), obfuscating mergers continued to cloud the picture, closely-watched core-PCE deflator had risen a more than expected 0.2%, second sub-50 reading on manufacturing activity in as many sessions-the November ISM index unexpectedly fell to 49.5 (consensus 52.0), Chicago PMI fell to its lowest level (49.9%) in October, and below the 50 level, indicating contraction, crude prices up  (OIL PRICES RISE ABOVE $63 A BARREL...), DOLLAR RESUMES SLIDE, Fed Chairman Bernanke & Co. cheerleading/jawboning/bulls**t, 3.2% decline in new home sales, oil inventories down and oil prices up, oil producers shun the dollar, Russia and Opec shift revenues into euros, yen and sterling..., all very bad news anywhere but in the fraudulent alice-in-wonderland world of wall street. Durable goods orders fell sharply, sentiment down, but supposedly used home sales rose slightly (riiiiight.....who says; the realtors/government who have been talking up this bubble market?) albeit at sharply lower prices. DOLLAR PLUNGES TO NEAR 15-YEAR LOW  In other words, no good news to justify the ridiculous up move by the alice-in-wonderland frauds of wall street. Worthless dollar, triple deficits, stock/options scandals/corruption, as some speculate that fed is behind purchases/manipulation (through proxy) of worthless american paper now being shunned by more rational market players abroad.  MARKETS ROCKED BY LONG OVERDUE BUT STILL MODEST RELATIVE TO REALITY SHARP SLIDE IN DOLLAR...There has never been a time since 1929 when stock prices and p/e ratios were so irrationally high for this point in a bull cycle in this indisputable secular bear market, particularly with the existing unprecedented structural economic problems, ie., trade and budget deficits, worthless dollar, scandals, fraud, corruption , etc.. In fact, unemployment unexpectedly rose substantially and consumer sentiment unexpectedly but similarly realistically fell, both very negative exept in the  fraudulent alice-in-wonderland world of wall street. Indeed, the housing bubble bursting with ie., unexpected 14% decline in starts/permits, etc., led to rally in the fraudulent alice-in-wonderland world of wall street. Obfuscating mergers help preclude detection of this massive and pervasive fraud which defies analysis owing to these mergers. New talking pointing: dell numbers exceed expectations depending upon ongoing government scrutiny of their accounting practices.....riiiiight! More contrived manipulated markets and data well as that previous unexpected rise in that global hub of manufacturing activity, New York (worthless paper is their real product, etc.) …..riiiiight!….. underpins fraudulent up move. Reassuring Fed speak, also known as b**l s**t, along with IPO’s (get the suckers in at the highs as in late 90’s market bubble), and shrugging off pervasive stock/options fraud as at, ie., KB Homes, etc., leave stocks ridiculously higher. Nations leaving the worthless dollar in droves for currencies backed by value and for precious metals. Based on the self-interested statement of typical fraud american and fed rep, we hear once again the wishful thought that housing has bottomed.....right! [Reality/Truth: US housing slump deepens, spreads]. Home depot rallies despite lower than expected results and lower guidance for the year.....right! Who is stupid enough to believe anything the fraudulent criminal americans say. They are printing worthless dollars like mad. Consumer sentiment actually previously fell and there was nothing but wall street lunacy to prop the fraudulent market. The republicans who lockstepped with war criminal dumbya bush deserved to lose. The frauds on wall street now looking for the new corporate welfare program for which to sell the sizzle ie., stem cells, etc.. The know-nothing pundits are now saying the up move without any rational basis is predicated upon the the falsity that gridlock in washington is welcomed and good because no regulation of, ie., fraud on wall street, etc., can be passed. How about a tax on stock trades to come directly from the traders' (traitors/frauds) bottom lines and provide a disincentive for the churn-and-earn fraud which is tantamount to a wasteful tax on the economy. Even token Christian paulison from jew fraud wall street couldn't stem the tide against the blatent zionist/neocon/bush co failure accross the board as the wall street frauds show record profits financed, albeit indirectly, by huge deficits, both trade and budget. Obfuscating mergers blur the picture to provide cover for up move talking points in defiance of reality.  Stagflation and full employment revisions pre-election.....riiiiight. Productivity comes in at a less than expected 0 (inflationary). The only surprise should have been that the number wasn't negative. The pundits are now saying that the market/wall street fraud is in a state of denial regarding economic fundamentals and that the market is substantially overbought, overvalued, overfrauded, over, etc., the manufacturing index coming in lower than expectations. Consumer sentiment unexpectedly fell.....daaaaah. Pre-election core inflation rate report good …..riiiiight…..but savings rate still negative and walmart sales/profits/outlook substantially below expectations but what the heck, they’re wallstreet lunatics/frauds and reality is no problem. Despite pre-election deficit spending, GNP comes in a less than expected paltry 1.6% increase with worthless falling dollar the catch-22 precluding reality avoidance and the worst yet to come. More nations leaving the worthless dollar as reserve currency even as frauds on wall street reach new highs (What are they smoking? Coking? or like the dollar just cracking) based on corporate welfare flows with money the nation doesn't have pre-election (record deficits). Housing prices continue their sharp decline as bubble deflates. GM only lost 115 million. Ford lost 5.8 billion and must restate earnings back to year 2000 is a bullish sign in the fraudulent alice-in-wonderland lunatic world of wall street. Typical pre-fed meeting rally to provide a cushion for any negative pronouncements which reality would require but are seldom forthcoming by the accommodative frauds who have similarly embraced unreality. Indeed, the gutless wimps of wall street think they're "tough" when they fraudulently take the market higher despite a clearly contrary fact based reality. Caterpillar relates the pervasive reality and the frauds on wallstreet intimidate same with sell off, ignoring pervasive options scandal/fraud and rallies Merck despite lower than expectation results.....riiiiight! Election year corporate welfare to prime the pump and the mock stock market with money the nation doesn’t have (increasing already huge deficits). CPI figures (upon which government inflation adjusted payment obligations are based) lower than expected…..riiiiight! Intel earnings/revenues down sharply but according to the lunatic frauds on wall street, beat expectations and stock rallies along with yahoo which as in the pre-dot com bust days says better days are a coming….. riiiiight Core inflation rate which is closely watched by the Fed exceeds all expectations. Fraud Merrill Lynch has really been pushing and commissioning that worthless paper and reports record earnings, despite having produced nothing and for very little if any value added (that ill-gotten money has to come from somewhere-your pockets?). The big economic report awaiting scrutiny was the monthly trade deficit which was expected to narrow but in fact INCREASED to 69.9 billion. The alice-in-wonderland lunatic wall street frauds rallied on the news as the dollar precipitously fell. The Fed Chairman said there is a "substantial correction" in housing, which will probably shave about 1% off growth in the second half of the year. The Institute of Supply Management said its services index fell to 52.9 in September -- the lowest level since April 2003. Great News….. riiiiight!..... Consumer Confidence Higher Than Expected... riiiiight!..... and housing starts were down sharply but not-as-bad-as-expectations game in play US Existing Home Sales Fall 0.5% in August; Sales Price Drops Existing-home prices fall for 1st time in 11 years along with fed jaw-boning pre-election that inflation has been licked .....riiiiight …..despite printing worthless dollars like they’re going out of style because they really are! Fed did nothing and stocks rallied, pre-election.....riiiiight! What about the reality of u.s. debt service at a record unsustainable $2 billion per day on a revolving $2 trillion charge account with ie., China, etc.. The fact that foreclosures are up and that there is projected new trade deficit record, fake government inflation numbers for election year purposes, housing starts down 6% means little to the alice-in-wonderland lunatic frauds of wall street and the so-called pundits including yahoo below. Almost all computerized volume is and must be considered heavy, manipulated, economically wasteful volume [stocks move contrary to rational analytical facts (ie., exceeded lowered expectations, things so bad interest rates can’t rise, exceeded expectations, no earnings but outlook extraordinary, the fed says booo as they print more worthless dollars to finance deficits, etc. ) is money in the bank for the frauds on wall street when they unwind said irrational positions ]. Philadelphia Federal Reserve announces that its broadest measure of manufacturing activity fell to a negative reading for the first time since April 2003, leading economic indicators fall .2%, and previously fell .1% though expected to show an increase, and in addition to the larger than expected 4.1% drop in July existing home sales to its lowest level in over two years and lifted inventories to record levels , new home sales fell 4.3%, and a larger than expected 2.4% decline in July durable orders which are negatives anywhere but in the alice-in-wonderland lunatic world of wall street where same is greeted as good news as also follows with b**l s**t from Yahoo (which didn’t even reference the record unanticipated trade gap):

Dow Closes Above 12,500 for First Time
AP - Wall Street surged higher Wednesday, hurtling the Dow Jones industrials past 12,500 for the first time as year-end bargain hunters picked up stocks across a variety of sectors.

United Launches Post-Holiday Fare Sale AP
Oil Prices Drop Due to Depressed Demand
AP
Markets Have Moments of Silence for Ford
AP
New Home Sales Climb 3.4 Percent in Nov.
AP

Stocks rallied Wednesday as year-end seasonality, oil prices hitting one-month lows and more confirmation that the housing market is stabilizing kept the Santa Claus rally intact. Six of the Dow 30 finishing at new 52-week highs, with only three trading days left until 2006 comes to a close, also helped power the Dow to a new record close. The S&P 500 closed at a fresh six-year high, getting help from gains in virtually every (138 of 147) industry group.With no companies scheduled to report earnings today and concerns still lingering about whether weakness in the housing market will adversely impact consumer spending, investors keyed in on today's only scheduled report to see just how well the U.S. economy is holding up. Then, with yesterday's recovery efforts already carrying over into this morning's opening bell, encouraging housing data provided an additional spark for the bulls wanting more and exacerbated the bears' reluctance to fight historical trends.At 10:00 ET, the Commerce Dept. showed that sales of new homes rose 3.5% in November to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.047 mln (consensus 1.015 mln) while median sales prices rose 5.8% from a year ago. Even though not too much emphasis should be placed on median sales prices, the fact that they rose for a second straight month (and/or did not decline) helped to alleviate worries that the downshift in house price appreciation may spill over into consumer spending.While more proof that the U.S. economy is withstanding the "substantial correction" in housing took a toll on Treasuries, the most notable surprise was the rate-sensitive Financials sector's resilience in the face of higher borrowing costs. The yield on the 10-year note (-13/32) rose to 4.65%, a five-week high. Examples of strength were Citigroup (C 56.42 +1.30), which surged 2.4% to a new record, while fellow Dow component JP Morgan Chase (JPM 48.95 +0.64) climbed 1.3% to an intraday 52-week high.Another notable sector shrugging off weakness in an instrument directly tied to the ability to generate earnings was Energy. Despite oil prices tacking a 1.2% decline onto yesterday's 2.1% sell-off, Energy eventually surpassed Telecom to log the day's best performance among the 10 sectors closing higher. Telecom is up nearly 31% for the year while Energy ranks second with a 23% year-to-date advance.Technology, which ranks second in terms of influence behind Financials, was another bright spot today. IBM (IBM 97.20 +1.54) climbing 1.6% to its best levels of the year and fellow Dow component Hewlett-Packard (HPQ 41.60 +0.67) also surging 1.6% to a multi-year high provided some notable leadership. Some bargain-hunting interest in Intel Corp (INTC 20.40 +0.25), this year's worst performing Dow component (-17%), and Apple Computer (AAPL 81.52 +0.01) erasing an intraday decline of nearly 6% Apple offered additional sources of sector support.As was the case yesterday, though, thin volumes offered little conviction behind another day of broad-based buying efforts. BTK +0.3% DJ30 +102.94 DJTA +1.1% DJUA +0.3% DOT +1.0% NASDAQ +17.71 NQ100 +0.6% R2K +1.2% SOX +0.5% SP400 +0.9% SP500 +9.94 XOI +1.2% NASDAQ Dec/Adv/Vol 900/2175/1.23 bln NYSE Dec/Adv/Vol 727/2593/924 mln

The current-account trade deficit increased 3.9 percent to an all-time high of $225.6 billion in the July-September quarter, the Commerce Department reported Monday. That third-quarter deficit was equal to 6.8 percent of the total economy, up from 6.6 percent of gross domestic product in the second quarter. The current account is the broadest measure of trade because it tracks not only the flow of goods and services across borders but also investment flows. It represents the amount of money that must be borrowed from foreigners to make up the difference between imports and exports. At current levels, the United States is borrowing more than $2 billion a day from foreigners to finance the trade deficit.

U.S. HOUSING SLUMP DEEPENS, SPREADS
BARRIE MCKENNA Washington — First, Americans quit buying homes. Now, they may have stopped fixing and furnishing them too. Home Depot Inc. reported a 3-per-cent drop in profit in the three months that ended in October, amid mounting evidence that the U.S. housing slump is getting worse. “I don't think we've seen the bottom yet, and I don't see anything that says it's going to get significantly better in 2007,” said Bob Nardelli, Home Depot's chairman and chief executive officer. Mr. Nardelli said job losses in the home construction market are the worst he's seen in 35 years, and the pain is starting to spread to the home renovation market. “The loss of jobs ... in the home construction market is at unprecedented levels,” Mr. Nardelli told analysts on a conference call Tuesday. “Home builders [are] basically writing off earnest money and liquidating land. We're starting to see a lot of that unemployment find its way over to the small repair and remodel contractors.” Problems in the housing sector have also begun to affect how consumers spend their money. In October, U.S. retail sales fell at an annual rate of 0.2 per cent — the third consecutive monthly decline, according to a U.S. Commerce Department report Tuesday. The decline was heavily influenced by lower gasoline prices, which resulted in less revenue for gas stations. But there were also sharp declines in building materials (down 0.3 per cent), furniture (down 0.7 per cent) and department store sales (down 0.7 per cent). Over the past three months, sales of building materials have plunged at an annual rate of 10.6 per cent. “The housing slowdown left its grimy fingerprints all over this report,” BMO Nesbitt Burns economist Douglas Porter said in a note to clients. Lower gasoline prices don't seem to be causing consumers to spend elsewhere, as many economists had predicted. Even if you strip out volatile gas, food and auto sales, all other retail sales rose a meagre 0.1 per cent October. “People are being very cautious,” said Ian Shepherdson, chief North American economist at High Frequency Economics. “The housing crunch is now hurting.” At least two other bellwether U.S. retailers — Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Target Corp. — reported Tuesday that their sales and profit remain strong, in spite of the problems in the housing sector. But executives at Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, acknowledged that sales in the third quarter were disappointing and it is already vowing its biggest-ever discounting binge on items such as toys and electronics to keep cash registers ringing this Christmas. “This season, no one will doubt Wal-Mart's leadership on price and value,” Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott said. Wal-Mart's profit rose to $2.65-billion (U.S.) or 63 cents a share in the third quarter that ended Oct. 31, up from $2.37-billion or 57 cents a year earlier. That was slightly below what analysts had expected, according to Reuters. Sales were up 12 per cent to $83.5-billion. But those figures include sales at newly opened stores and foreign stores. Sales at U.S. stores that have been open at least a year were up just 1.5 per cent, and Mr. Scott said fourth-quarter sales would rise just 1 to 2 per cent.

There is nothing to rationally justify the previous up move or mixed results in the market other than what is tantamount to a negative, and based upon spurious data from the government; ie., fake government numbers said total PPI rose a smaller than expected 0.1% (consensus 0.4%) in July, which was well below the 0.5% jump in June, while the more closely watched core rate (ex-food and energy) unexpectedly (RIIIIIGHT!) fell 0.3% (consensus +0.2%) -- the first decline since October and the largest drop since a 0.5% decline in April 2003. Home Sales Decline in 28 States, D.C.. Real estate prices down/stagnant. But housing stocks…..up.....riiiiight!.....in the fraudulent "alice-in-wonderland" lunatic world of wall street where down is up and up is down.  Martin Crutsinger, AP Economics Writer, previously wrote,” U.S. Trade Deficit Falls 0.3 Percent in June to $64.8B, Offsetting Jump in Chinese Imports. Dell Recall Stems From sony Production Flaw  WASHINGTON (AP) -- America's trade deficit showed a slight improvement as strong global growth pushed U.S. exports to a record level. That helped offset a surge in Chinese imports and record crude oil prices. The deficit declined 0.3 percent in June, compared with May, dropping to $64.8 billion, still the fifth largest imbalance on record, the Commerce Department reported Thursday. The deficit is running at an annual rate of $768 billion through the first six months of this year, putting the country on track to see a fifth straight record imbalance. Last year's deficit was $716.7 billion. Prior considerations remain apposite in this clearly overvalued market. The frauds on wall street feel compelled to continue their tradition/superstition/fraud tactic of buying on the rumor and selling on the news (fact) of the Fed’s temporary pause in rate hikes. You see, the facts/news do not rationally warrant holding dollar based securities/stocks but provide a means to scam the stupid money, to the benefit of the wall street frauds/scammers and smart money.  Yahoo previously commented: Friday was a wild day on Wall Street with early gains fueled by an encouraging July jobs report being wiped away as the return of concern tied to an economic slowdown outweighed the potential of a pause in tightening at Tuesday's Fed meeting. Before the bell, nonfarm payrolls rose a less than expected 113,000 and the unemployment rate rose for the first time since November, suggesting the labor market is losing steam and reinforcing the view that the economy is on track for a soft landing. To wit, fed funds futures were pricing in a 44% chance....., to which I responded, Wild..... I’ll give you wild: GM says their quarterly loss was $3.4 billion and not 3.2 billion as reported; Ford says their loss was $200 million dollars more than they previously reported and will now join gm in worker buyouts; but both GM and Ford will now offer built-in ipods which should substantially help their core business of building cars; meanwhile, options/accounting scandal/subterfuge occurring at the apple ipod (anything but computers) company. Analyst says GM good news now behind it (past/discounted), yet stock still rose upon said analysis …..riiiiight….. daaaaah! Apple Computer Inc. warned Thursday that it may have to revise its profits dating back to 2002 in a worsening stock option scandal, maybe even suspension, that has cast a harsh light on Silicon Valley's compensation practices. Don’t forget that GDP growth slowed substantially and below expectations at 2.5% which in the alice-in-wonderland lunatic world of wall street is of course good news. Stagflation? The fact is that no rational investor would choose dollar based stocks/securities when they could get less risky/liquid (approx.) 5% yielding cds, money market instruments, short-term treasuries/funds, etc.. However it’s not rational investors that are racking up commission dollars trading in and out of stocks like termites eating away at the huge capital funds which they control. Nothing constituting real value would account for the fraudulent rally mode this and other days. Highly leveraged obfuscating mergers/acquisitions, also very commissionable (investment bankers/brokers), and historically have more often than not ended quite badly; oil prices now above $60; yes, as in the last crash, they will get fooled again’ as stocks up sharply in the fraudulent alice-in-wonderland lunatic world of wall street where down is up and up is down. The stock market has never been so backward-looking. Indeed, amazingly, the pundits/analysts are even talking SEASONAL considerations in their fraud in the inducement which is the height of absurdity (such things are discounted well in advance in a rational market). The once objective, fact-oriented Barrons publication has now become a shill for the continuing fraud on wall street. Bush no conservative says Buckley (who also says that in Europe bush’s failed war policies would have required his expected resignation).....daaaaah!; neither are the hillbillies clintons and papa hillbilly bush. CNN's DOBBS BLASTS U.S. ISRAEL POLICY... BUCHANAN: 'Israel policy violates international law, is un-American and un-Christian'... The government is also catching on and playing the “better than expectations” game with the still very substantial deficit numbers, clouded by the use of social security funds used in the general fund rather than allocated for the defacto bankrupt social security system where they belong. ! Remember, leading economic indicators are down .6 percent continuing an ignored (by wall street frauds) downward trend/weakness extending back to the summer, 2005. Options scandal as was inherent in the (fraudulent) dotcom bust is extent and under way in nasdaq particularly. Spotlight on the Stock Option Scandal-The share prices of companies involved in stock options backdating have held up well compared to the broader market. But shareholders might be in for a rougher ride. Plus, why the Nasdaq has its hands full. I previously warned be very skeptical of up-coming government/corporate/collaborative/wall street data inasmuch as they are quite desperate and have proven [ie., illegal Iraq war/occupation, 911 attack(for the neocon contrived pearl harbor effect)/who ordered NORAD to stand down?/who were the pre911(within days) short-sellers?/ and the twin towers implosion, the missile that hit the pentagon precisely in the area that housed the army investigators who announced days before the opening of an investigation into a substantial pentagon fraud, etc.] that the truth is no obstacle when falsity is expedient and the lunatic frauds on wall street will try to tell you what’s up is down and what’s down is up. Lou Dobbs gets paid a lot of money to keep track of such things and doubts the verity of the government numbers. He is riiiiight! The catch-22 is that the defacto bankrupt u.s. is printing worthless paper (so much so that they’ve stopped reporting M3) and borrowing beyond sustainability, which is hyperinflationary despite false government numbers (ie., core inflation number to fraudulently decrease yield to ibond holders, etc.). Higher interest rates to prop worthless dollar and finance deficits inevitable despite wishin', hopin', and lyin’ to the contrary; foreclosures up, housing down, default notices up 67% (particularly in california, ie., orange, la, ventura, counties etc.) nationwide. Don’t forget: the equity in housing has been stripped out of real estate by way of the refinancing boom, which artificially stimulated the economic numbers while ultimately leaving buyers with debt exceeding actual property values. There is substantial downside bias in light of real economic considerations, particularly beyond the moment/trading day given that this bull (s**t) cycle in this indisputable secular bear market is over. Remember: more contrived wasteful commissions to the wall street frauds, the level and percentage of which should be examined in light of computerization and decreased costs attendant to same especially since only A Small Fraction Of What wall street Does Is A Net Positive For The Economy (New Investment Capital), The Rest Is Tantamount To A (Economically) "Wasteful Tax" (On The Economy) via 'churn and earn' computerized programmed trades.

US '.....going bankrupt'
By Edmund Conway, Economics Editor (Filed: 14/07/2006)

The United States is heading for bankruptcy, according to an extraordinary paper published by one of the key members of the country's central bank.

A ballooning budget deficit and a pensions and welfare timebomb could send the economic superpower into insolvency, according to research by Professor Laurence Kotlikoff for the Federal Reserve Bank of St Louis, a leading constituent of the US Federal Reserve.

Prof Kotlikoff said that, by some measures, the US is already bankrupt. "To paraphrase the Oxford English Dictionary, is the United States at the end of its resources, exhausted, stripped bare, destitute, bereft, wanting in property, or wrecked in consequence of failure to pay its creditors," he asked.

According to his central analysis, "the US government is, indeed, bankrupt, insofar as it will be unable to pay its creditors, who, in this context, are current and future generations to whom it has explicitly or implicitly promised future net payments of various kinds''.

The budget deficit in the US is not massive. The Bush administration this week cut its forecasts for the fiscal shortfall this year by almost a third, saying it will come in at 2.3pc of gross domestic product. This is smaller than most European countries - including the UK - which have deficits north of 3pc of GDP.

Prof Kotlikoff, who teaches at Boston University, says: "The proper way to consider a country's solvency is to examine the lifetime fiscal burdens facing current and future generations. If these burdens exceed the resources of those generations, get close to doing so, or simply get so high as to preclude their full collection, the country's policy will be unsustainable and can constitute or lead to national bankruptcy.

"Does the United States fit this bill? No one knows for sure, but there are strong reasons to believe the United States may be going broke."

Experts have calculated that the country's long-term "fiscal gap" between all future government spending and all future receipts will widen immensely as the Baby Boomer generation retires, and as the amount the state will have to spend on healthcare and pensions soars. The total fiscal gap could be an almost incomprehensible $65.9 trillion, according to a study by Professors Gokhale and Smetters.

The figure is massive because President George W Bush has made major tax cuts in recent years, and because the bill for Medicare, which provides health insurance for the elderly, and Medicaid, which does likewise for the poor, will increase greatly due to demographics.

Prof Kotlikoff said: "This figure is more than five times US GDP and almost twice the size of national wealth. One way to wrap one's head around $65.9trillion is to ask what fiscal adjustments are needed to eliminate this red hole. The answers are terrifying. One solution is an immediate and permanent doubling of personal and corporate income taxes. Another is an immediate and permanent two-thirds cut in Social Security and Medicare benefits. A third alternative, were it feasible, would be to immediately and permanently cut all federal discretionary spending by 143pc."

The scenario has serious implications for the dollar. If investors lose confidence in the US's future, and suspect the country may at some point allow inflation to erode away its debts, they may reduce their holdings of US Treasury bonds.

Prof Kotlikoff said: "The United States has experienced high rates of inflation in the past and appears to be running the same type of fiscal policies that engendered hyperinflations in 20 countries over the past century."

UPDATE - Two former NYSE traders found guilty of fraud

Stock market staggers, but investors still may be too optimistic

Commentary: Newsletters react to stock markets' losing week
By Peter Brimelow, MarketWatch  12:04 AM ET Jul 17, 2006
Investors may still be too optimistic
NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- First, a proprietary word: on Friday night, the Hulbert Stock Newsletter Sentiment Index (HSNSI), which reflects the average recommended stock market exposure among a subset of short-term market timing newsletters tracked by the Hulbert Financial Digest, stood at plus-23.8%. This was certainly below the 31.4% it showed on Tuesday night, when Mark Hulbert worried, presciently we must say, that it was too strong from a contrary opinion point of view. But it's still above its 12.6% reading at end of June, although, Mark pointed out, the stock market had declined in the interim. And since Mark wrote, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has had three triple-digit down days.

Not good.

Dow Theory Letters' Richard Russell wrote Friday morning: "If the Dow breaks support at 10,760, I think we could have some nasty action, even some crash-type action." But, perhaps significantly, Russell did not quite hit the panic button when the Dow did indeed close at 10,739 Friday night.

He simply remarked, supporting the contrary opinion view: "Three days in a row with the Dow down over 100 points each day -- you don't see that very often. But still no signs of real fear, no capitulation, no panic -- just down, down, and down. The key consideration here is that there is still no sign of big money coming into this market. In fact, the big money has been leaving this market all year. ... The longer the market continues down without a panic decline, the worse the ultimate panic will be when it arrives."

What is Wrong with the Stock Market?

Dr. Khaled Batarfi

 

John D. Rockefeller was once asked why he decided to sell all his stocks just months before the 1929 Wall Street Crash. He explained: One morning, I was on the way to my office and stopped to have my shoes polished. The guy asked my advice about the shares he bought. If people with this kind of talent were now playing the market, I knew there was something wrong.....

 

U.S. Treasury balances at Fed fell on July 17Tue Jul 18, 2006

WASHINGTON, July 18 (Reuters) - U.S. Treasury balances at the Federal Reserve, based on the Treasury Department's latest budget statement (billions of dollars, except where noted):

              July 17 July 14 (respectively)

Fed acct  4.087 4.935

Tax/loan note acct 10.502 10.155

Cash balance 14.589 15.192

National debt,

subject to limit 8,311.633 8,323.084

The statutory debt limit is $8.965 trillion.

The Treasury said there were $192 million in individual tax refunds and $23 million in corporate tax refunds issued.

End Of The Bubble Bailouts A. Gary Shilling, Insight 08.29.06 - For a quarter-century, Americans’ spending binge has been fueled by a declining savings rate and increased borrowing. The savings rate of American consumers has fallen from 12% in the early 1980s to -1.7% today (see chart below). This means that, on average, consumer spending has risen about a half percentage point more than disposable, or after-tax, income per year for a quarter-century.

The fact that Americans are saving less and less of their after-tax income is only half the profligate consumer story. If someone borrows to buy a car, his savings rate declines because his outlays go up but his disposable income doesn’t. So the downward march in the personal savings rate is closely linked to the upward march in total consumer debt (mortgage, credit card, auto, etc.) in relation to disposable income (see chart below).

Robust consumer spending was fueled first by the soaring stock market of the 1990s and, more recently, by the housing bubble, as house prices departed from their normal close link to the Consumer Price Index (see chart below) and subsequently racked up huge appreciation for homeowners, who continued to save less and spend more. Thanks to accommodative lenders eager to provide refinancings and home equity loans, Americans extracted $719 billion in cash from their houses last year after a $633 billion withdrawal in 2004, according to the Federal Reserve.

But the housing bubble is deflating rapidly. I expect at least a 20% decline in median single-family house prices nationwide, and that number may be way understated. A bursting of the bubble would force many homeowners to curb their outlays in order to close the gaps between their income and spending growth. That would surely precipitate a major recession that would become global, given the dependence of most foreign countries on U.S. consumers to buy the excess goods and services for which they have no other markets.

That is, unless another source of money can bridge the gap between consumer incomes and outlays, just as house appreciation seamlessly took over when stocks nosedived. What could that big new source of money be? And would it be available soon, given the likelihood that house prices will swoon in coming quarters?

One possible source of big, although not immediate, money to sustain consumer spending is inheritance. Some estimates in the 1990s had the postwar babies, who have saved little for their retirement, inheriting between $10 trillion and $41 trillion from their parents in the coming decades. But subsequent work by AARP, using the Federal Reserve’s Survey of Consumer Finances for 2004 and previous years, slashed the total for inheritances of all people alive today to $12 trillion in 2005 dollars. Most of it, $9.2 trillion, will go to pre-boomers born before 1946, only $2.1 trillion to the postwar babies born between 1946 and 1964, and $0.7 trillion to the post-boomers.

Furthermore, the value of all previous inheritances as reported in the 2004 survey was $49,902 on average, with $70,317 for pre-boomers, $48,768 for boomers and $24,348 for post-boomers. Clearly, these are not numbers that provide for comfortable retirements and, therefore, allow people to continue to spend like drunken sailors.

What other assets could consumers borrow against or liquidate to support spending growth in the future? After all, they do have a lot of net worth, almost $54 trillion for households and nonprofit organizations as of the end of the first quarter. Nevertheless, there aren’t any other big assets left to tap. Another big stock bonanza is unlikely for decades, and the real estate bubble is deflating.

Deposits total $6.3 trillion, but the majority, $4.9 trillion worth, is in time and savings deposits, largely held for retirement by financially conservative people. Is it likely that a speculator who owns five houses has sizable time deposits to fall back on? Households and nonprofits hold $3.2 trillion in bonds and other credit market instruments, but most owned by individuals are in conservative hands. Life insurance reserves can be borrowed, but their total size, $1.1 trillion, pales in comparison to the $1.8 trillion that homeowners extracted from their houses in the 2003-2005 years. There’s $6.7 trillion of equity in noncorporate business, but the vast majority of that is needed by typically cash-poor small businesses to keep their doors open.

Pension funds might be a source of cash for consumers who want to live it up now and take the Scarlett O’Hara, “I’ll worry about that tomorrow” attitude toward retirement. They totaled $11.1 trillion in the first quarter, but that number includes public funds and private defined benefit plans that are seldom available to pre-retirees unless they leave their jobs.

The private defined contribution plans, typically 401(k)s, totaled $2.5 trillion in 2004 and have been growing rapidly because employers favor them. But sadly, many employees, especially those at lower income levels, don’t share their bosses’ zeal. Only about 70% participate in their company 401(k) plans and thereby take advantage of company contributions. Lower paid employees are especially absent from participation, with 40% of those making less than $20,000 contributing (60% of those earning $20,000 to $40,000), while 90% of employees earning $100,000 or more participate.

Furthermore, the amount that employees could net from withdrawals from defined contribution plans would be far less than the $2.5 trillion total, probably less than the $1.8 trillion they pulled out of their houses from 2003 to 2005. That $2.5 trillion total includes company contributions that are not yet vested and can’t be withdrawn. Also, withdrawals by those under 59½ years old are subject to a 10% penalty, with income taxes due on the remainder.

With soaring stock portfolios now ancient history and leaping house prices about to be, no other sources, such as inheritance or pension fund withdrawals, are likely to fill the gap between robust consumer spending and weak income growth. Consumer retrenchment and the saving spree I’ve been expecting may finally be about to commence. And the effects on consumer behavior, especially on borrowing and discretionary spending, will be broad and deep.

Analysts' Forecasts and Brokerage-Firm Trading
THE ACCOUNTING REVIEW Vol. 79, No. 1 2004 pp. 125–149 Analysts’ Forecasts and
Brokerage-Firm Trading
Paul J. Irvine Emory University University of Georgia
Collectively, these results suggest that analysts can generate higher trading commissions through their positive stock recommendations than by biasing their forecasts.

WHISPERS OF MERGERS SET OFF BOUTS OF SUSPICIOUS TRADING...
August 27, 2006 NYTimes By GRETCHEN MORGENSONThe boom in corporate mergers is creating concern that illicit trading ahead of deal announcements is becoming a systemic problem.

(12-26-06) Roaring suckers bear market rally is nothing less than a defacto fraud by the lunatic frauds on wall street to suck the suckers in; ie., as the Dow Jones industrial average up 64, Standard & Poor's 500 index up 6, and the Nasdaq composite index up 12, all very commissionable on heavy volume as in final pre-election result push for bush, which fell very short, but has provided the same pump-priming of the market as most recently in 1999 which ended quite badly even without the exacerbating effects of huge unsustainable and debilitating debt/deficits deferred/prolonging the inevitable reality even as entire domestic u.s. industries are rendered defunct and with corporate welfare unwisely spent (war crimes, etc.). Oil stocks rally on pipeline explosion in Nigeria, spill in Gulf, and sanctions for Iran, and sharp FALL in oil prices.....riiiiight!.....predictions of disappointing retail sales even with fire-sale discounted prices..... Highest increase (2%) in 30 years for the wholesale price index, and as well, the core ppi (1.3%), GDP growth less than expected at 2%, dollar sharply lower, oil prices up, building permits down, all unexpectedly bad but great news in the fraudulent alice-in-wonderland lunatic world of wall street. New Record Quarterly Trade Deficit initially spurred lunatic market rally along with obfuscating but very commissionable merger activity. Core inflation a very unexpected unchanged .....riiiiight!.....spurs superstitious, devoid of reality, santa rally.  Investment Banks Post Record 2006 Profit .....daaaaah! Churning and earning on worthless paper, where is that commission dollar coming from even as america has ceded solvency/leadership in every economic measure. Even at the lofty record numbers the indices are worth roughly half their value based on precipitous fall of the dollar in only 5 years with further downside to go. Superstitious ‘Santa Claus rally’.....riiiiight! High oil price rally.....riiiiight!  Total  bulls**t ! Retail sales up a very unexpected 1%, riiiiight, at the same time inventories of such goods rising substantially (do you think they’re booking sales to ‘straw men/companies’.....I do!) and oil inventories down. Fake employment numbers (from the government.....riiiiight!) the impetus for previous b.s. rally despite falling sentiment and uptick in unemployment. The ism services index (financed by unsustainable deficit/debt spending and pushing/commissioning worthless paper) and jawboning/bulls**t from the housing industry (the end is near.....riiiiight!), obfuscating mergers continued to cloud the picture, closely-watched core-PCE deflator had risen a more than expected 0.2%, second sub-50 reading on manufacturing activity in as many sessions-the November ISM index unexpectedly fell to 49.5 (consensus 52.0), Chicago PMI fell to its lowest level (49.9%) in October, and below the 50 level, indicating contraction, crude prices up  (OIL PRICES RISE ABOVE $63 A BARREL...), DOLLAR RESUMES SLIDE, Fed Chairman Bernanke & Co. cheerleading/jawboning/bulls**t, 3.2% decline in new home sales, oil inventories down and oil prices up, oil producers shun the dollar, Russia and Opec shift revenues into euros, yen and sterling..., all very bad news anywhere but in the fraudulent alice-in-wonderland world of wall street. Durable goods orders fell sharply, sentiment down, but supposedly used home sales rose slightly (riiiiight.....who says; the realtors/government who have been talking up this bubble market?) albeit at sharply lower prices. DOLLAR PLUNGES TO NEAR 15-YEAR LOW  In other words, no good news to justify the ridiculous up move by the alice-in-wonderland frauds of wall street. Worthless dollar, triple deficits, stock/options scandals/corruption, as some speculate that fed is behind purchases/manipulation (through proxy) of worthless american paper now being shunned by more rational market players abroad.  MARKETS ROCKED BY LONG OVERDUE BUT STILL MODEST RELATIVE TO REALITY SHARP SLIDE IN DOLLAR...There has never been a time since 1929 when stock prices and p/e ratios were so irrationally high for this point in a bull cycle in this indisputable secular bear market, particularly with the existing unprecedented structural economic problems, ie., trade and budget deficits, worthless dollar, scandals, fraud, corruption , etc.. In fact, unemployment unexpectedly rose substantially and consumer sentiment unexpectedly but similarly realistically fell, both very negative exept in the  fraudulent alice-in-wonderland world of wall street. Indeed, the housing bubble bursting with ie., unexpected 14% decline in starts/permits, etc., led to rally in the fraudulent alice-in-wonderland world of wall street. Obfuscating mergers help preclude detection of this massive and pervasive fraud which defies analysis owing to these mergers. New talking pointing: dell numbers exceed expectations depending upon ongoing government scrutiny of their accounting practices.....riiiiight! More contrived manipulated markets and data well as that previous unexpected rise in that global hub of manufacturing activity, New York (worthless paper is their real product, etc.) …..riiiiight!….. underpins fraudulent up move. Reassuring Fed speak, also known as b**l s**t, along with IPO’s (get the suckers in at the highs as in late 90’s market bubble), and shrugging off pervasive stock/options fraud as at, ie., KB Homes, etc., leave stocks ridiculously higher. Nations leaving the worthless dollar in droves for currencies backed by value and for precious metals. Based on the self-interested statement of typical fraud american and fed rep, we hear once again the wishful thought that housing has bottomed.....right! [Reality/Truth: US housing slump deepens, spreads]. Home depot rallies despite lower than expected results and lower guidance for the year.....right! Who is stupid enough to believe anything the fraudulent criminal americans say. They are printing worthless dollars like mad. Consumer sentiment actually previously fell and there was nothing but wall street lunacy to prop the fraudulent market. The republicans who lockstepped with war criminal dumbya bush deserved to lose. The frauds on wall street now looking for the new corporate welfare program for which to sell the sizzle ie., stem cells, etc.. The know-nothing pundits are now saying the up move without any rational basis is predicated upon the the falsity that gridlock in washington is welcomed and good because no regulation of, ie., fraud on wall street, etc., can be passed. How about a tax on stock trades to come directly from the traders' (traitors/frauds) bottom lines and provide a disincentive for the churn-and-earn fraud which is tantamount to a wasteful tax on the economy. Even token Christian paulison from jew fraud wall street couldn't stem the tide against the blatent zionist/neocon/bush co failure accross the board as the wall street frauds show record profits financed, albeit indirectly, by huge deficits, both trade and budget. Obfuscating mergers blur the picture to provide cover for up move talking points in defiance of reality.  Stagflation and full employment revisions pre-election.....riiiiight. Productivity comes in at a less than expected 0 (inflationary). The only surprise should have been that the number wasn't negative. The pundits are now saying that the market/wall street fraud is in a state of denial regarding economic fundamentals and that the market is substantially overbought, overvalued, overfrauded, over, etc., the manufacturing index coming in lower than expectations. Consumer sentiment unexpectedly fell.....daaaaah. Pre-election core inflation rate report good …..riiiiight…..but savings rate still negative and walmart sales/profits/outlook substantially below expectations but what the heck, they’re wallstreet lunatics/frauds and reality is no problem. Despite pre-election deficit spending, GNP comes in a less than expected paltry 1.6% increase with worthless falling dollar the catch-22 precluding reality avoidance and the worst yet to come. More nations leaving the worthless dollar as reserve currency even as frauds on wall street reach new highs (What are they smoking? Coking? or like the dollar just cracking) based on corporate welfare flows with money the nation doesn't have pre-election (record deficits). Housing prices continue their sharp decline as bubble deflates. GM only lost 115 million. Ford lost 5.8 billion and must restate earnings back to year 2000 is a bullish sign in the fraudulent alice-in-wonderland lunatic world of wall street. Typical pre-fed meeting rally to provide a cushion for any negative pronouncements which reality would require but are seldom forthcoming by the accommodative frauds who have similarly embraced unreality. Indeed, the gutless wimps of wall street think they're "tough" when they fraudulently take the market higher despite a clearly contrary fact based reality. Caterpillar relates the pervasive reality and the frauds on wallstreet intimidate same with sell off, ignoring pervasive options scandal/fraud and rallies Merck despite lower than expectation results.....riiiiight! Election year corporate welfare to prime the pump and the mock stock market with money the nation doesn’t have (increasing already huge deficits). CPI figures (upon which government inflation adjusted payment obligations are based) lower than expected…..riiiiight! Intel earnings/revenues down sharply but according to the lunatic frauds on wall street, beat expectations and stock rallies along with yahoo which as in the pre-dot com bust days says better days are a coming….. riiiiight Core inflation rate which is closely watched by the Fed exceeds all expectations. Fraud Merrill Lynch has really been pushing and commissioning that worthless paper and reports record earnings, despite having produced nothing and for very little if any value added (that ill-gotten money has to come from somewhere-your pockets?). The big economic report awaiting scrutiny was the monthly trade deficit which was expected to narrow but in fact INCREASED to 69.9 billion. The alice-in-wonderland lunatic wall street frauds rallied on the news as the dollar precipitously fell. The Fed Chairman said there is a "substantial correction" in housing, which will probably shave about 1% off growth in the second half of the year. The Institute of Supply Management said its services index fell to 52.9 in September -- the lowest level since April 2003. Great News….. riiiiight!..... Consumer Confidence Higher Than Expected... riiiiight!..... and housing starts were down sharply but not-as-bad-as-expectations game in play US Existing Home Sales Fall 0.5% in August; Sales Price Drops Existing-home prices fall for 1st time in 11 years along with fed jaw-boning pre-election that inflation has been licked .....riiiiight …..despite printing worthless dollars like they’re going out of style because they really are! Fed did nothing and stocks rallied, pre-election.....riiiiight! What about the reality of u.s. debt service at a record unsustainable $2 billion per day on a revolving $2 trillion charge account with ie., China, etc.. The fact that foreclosures are up and that there is projected new trade deficit record, fake government inflation numbers for election year purposes, housing starts down 6% means little to the alice-in-wonderland lunatic frauds of wall street and the so-called pundits including yahoo below. Almost all computerized volume is and must be considered heavy, manipulated, economically wasteful volume [stocks move contrary to rational analytical facts (ie., exceeded lowered expectations, things so bad interest rates can’t rise, exceeded expectations, no earnings but outlook extraordinary, the fed says booo as they print more worthless dollars to finance deficits, etc. ) is money in the bank for the frauds on wall street when they unwind said irrational positions ]. Philadelphia Federal Reserve announces that its broadest measure of manufacturing activity fell to a negative reading for the first time since April 2003, leading economic indicators fall .2%, and previously fell .1% though expected to show an increase, and in addition to the larger than expected 4.1% drop in July existing home sales to its lowest level in over two years and lifted inventories to record levels , new home sales fell 4.3%, and a larger than expected 2.4% decline in July durable orders which are negatives anywhere but in the alice-in-wonderland lunatic world of wall street where same is greeted as good news as also follows with b**l s**t from Yahoo (which didn’t even reference the record unanticipated trade gap):

Yale Makes Big Changes to MBA Program

AP - For one group of graduate business students at Yale, next month's lessons will take place on pineapple, banana and coffee plantations in Costa Rica.

Goodyear, Strikers Reach Tentative Deal AP
Denver Airport Reopens; Mess Lingers
AP
Court Cuts Valdez Judgment Against Exxon
AP
Macy's Pulls Sean John Hooded Jackets
AP

With only four trading days left in 2006, today officially marked the start of the classic year-end Santa Claus rally, according to the Stock Trader's Almanac. As has been the case with stocks showing weakness on the last trading day before Christmas over the last four years, however, today was no exception.Be that as it may, with the belief stocks are overbought on a short-term basis resurfacing to consolidate some of the market's five-month rally, thin volumes heading into the long holiday weekend offered very little in the way of conviction on the part of sellers. The NYSE did not even see 1.0 bln shares trade hands. Before the bell, the Commerce Dept. showed that personal spending in November rose the most since July. With the Fed recently saying that some inflation risks remain, leaving their focus on "incoming" data to dictate monetary policy decisions, the accompanying core-PCE deflator (and Fed's favored inflation gauge) checking in flat (0.0%) also helped to support the possibility of a "soft landing." After all, today's report follows 0.2% gains over the prior two months, lends some credence to last Friday's similar 0.0% reading on core-CPI and increases the likelihood of a Fed easing in early 2007 since it is evident that inflation pressures are definitely moderating.Nonetheless, with such moderation coming at the expense of slower economic growth, a stock market more concerned about the strength of the economy than inflation for the time being, a mixed durable orders report provided an ideal excuse to take some more money off the table. As a reminder, the Dow has hit new record highs more than 20 times since October while the S&P 500 and Nasdaq have posted respective gains of 15% and 19% since bottoming out in July.Durable orders rose a larger than expected 1.9% in November (consensus 1.5%); but non-defense capital goods excluding transportation orders, which are sometimes considered a barometer of underlying business investment trends, fell 1.4%. Not surprisingly, the Industrials sector was one of today's worst performers.Of the other nine sectors closing lower, Technology paced the way to the downside, and the absence of such influential leadership acted as the largest obstacle for the bulls to overcome Friday. Qualcomm (QCOM 37.81 -0.73) was one of the sector's biggest disappointments, plunging nearly 2.0% after cutting its Q1 profit forecasts.One bright spot that played into our Overweight rating on Tech, though, was Micron Technology (MU 13.94 +0.45). The stock surged 3.3% after first quarter profits tripled, but was unable to offer much support for the rest of the semiconductor space. Red Hat (RHT 22.46 +4.50) also soared (+25%) after beating Wall Street forecasts and issuing upside Q4 guidance; but since its Linux platform rivals Windows, Dow component Microsoft (MSFT 29.64 -0.34) tumbled 1.1% at the expense of Red Hat's victory lap.Energy was another constraint on the broader market as a pullback in oil prices prompted another round of consolidation in one of this year's best performers. Thus, the absence of leadership from the biggest contributor to earnings growth on the S&P 500 over the last several quarters overshadowed the diminished inflationary potential of lower energy prices and simply acted as another headwind for buyers.A report at 10:00 ET showing sentiment strengthened slightly over the last couple of weeks offered some solace when it was released. But the study compiled by the University of Michigan checking in stronger than expected merely provided bond traders with more fodder to lock in recent gains as well. As a result, a sell-off in Treasuries lifting bond yields across the curve weighed heavily on the rate-sensitive Financials sector, leaving the bulls waiting until after the holidays to try to finish the rally they started five months ago. The 10-year note tumbled 19 ticks, lifting the yield to 4.62% and sparking valuation concerns in stocks across the board. BTK +0.4% DJ30 -78.03 DJTA -0.7% DJUA -0.2% DOT -0.7% NASDAQ -14.67 NQ100 -1.0% R2K -0.3% SOX -0.6% SP400 -0.4% SP500 -7.54 XOI -1.2% NASDAQ Dec/Adv/Vol 1709/1312/1.32 bln NYSE Dec/Adv/Vol 1966/1240/942 mln

The current-account trade deficit increased 3.9 percent to an all-time high of $225.6 billion in the July-September quarter, the Commerce Department reported Monday. That third-quarter deficit was equal to 6.8 percent of the total economy, up from 6.6 percent of gross domestic product in the second quarter. The current account is the broadest measure of trade because it tracks not only the flow of goods and services across borders but also investment flows. It represents the amount of money that must be borrowed from foreigners to make up the difference between imports and exports. At current levels, the United States is borrowing more than $2 billion a day from foreigners to finance the trade deficit.

U.S. HOUSING SLUMP DEEPENS, SPREADS
BARRIE MCKENNA Washington — First, Americans quit buying homes. Now, they may have stopped fixing and furnishing them too. Home Depot Inc. reported a 3-per-cent drop in profit in the three months that ended in October, amid mounting evidence that the U.S. housing slump is getting worse. “I don't think we've seen the bottom yet, and I don't see anything that says it's going to get significantly better in 2007,” said Bob Nardelli, Home Depot's chairman and chief executive officer. Mr. Nardelli said job losses in the home construction market are the worst he's seen in 35 years, and the pain is starting to spread to the home renovation market. “The loss of jobs ... in the home construction market is at unprecedented levels,” Mr. Nardelli told analysts on a conference call Tuesday. “Home builders [are] basically writing off earnest money and liquidating land. We're starting to see a lot of that unemployment find its way over to the small repair and remodel contractors.” Problems in the housing sector have also begun to affect how consumers spend their money. In October, U.S. retail sales fell at an annual rate of 0.2 per cent — the third consecutive monthly decline, according to a U.S. Commerce Department report Tuesday. The decline was heavily influenced by lower gasoline prices, which resulted in less revenue for gas stations. But there were also sharp declines in building materials (down 0.3 per cent), furniture (down 0.7 per cent) and department store sales (down 0.7 per cent). Over the past three months, sales of building materials have plunged at an annual rate of 10.6 per cent. “The housing slowdown left its grimy fingerprints all over this report,” BMO Nesbitt Burns economist Douglas Porter said in a note to clients. Lower gasoline prices don't seem to be causing consumers to spend elsewhere, as many economists had predicted. Even if you strip out volatile gas, food and auto sales, all other retail sales rose a meagre 0.1 per cent October. “People are being very cautious,” said Ian Shepherdson, chief North American economist at High Frequency Economics. “The housing crunch is now hurting.” At least two other bellwether U.S. retailers — Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Target Corp. — reported Tuesday that their sales and profit remain strong, in spite of the problems in the housing sector. But executives at Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, acknowledged that sales in the third quarter were disappointing and it is already vowing its biggest-ever discounting binge on items such as toys and electronics to keep cash registers ringing this Christmas. “This season, no one will doubt Wal-Mart's leadership on price and value,” Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott said. Wal-Mart's profit rose to $2.65-billion (U.S.) or 63 cents a share in the third quarter that ended Oct. 31, up from $2.37-billion or 57 cents a year earlier. That was slightly below what analysts had expected, according to Reuters. Sales were up 12 per cent to $83.5-billion. But those figures include sales at newly opened stores and foreign stores. Sales at U.S. stores that have been open at least a year were up just 1.5 per cent, and Mr. Scott said fourth-quarter sales would rise just 1 to 2 per cent.

There is nothing to rationally justify the previous up move or mixed results in the market other than what is tantamount to a negative, and based upon spurious data from the government; ie., fake government numbers said total PPI rose a smaller than expected 0.1% (consensus 0.4%) in July, which was well below the 0.5% jump in June, while the more closely watched core rate (ex-food and energy) unexpectedly (RIIIIIGHT!) fell 0.3% (consensus +0.2%) -- the first decline since October and the largest drop since a 0.5% decline in April 2003. Home Sales Decline in 28 States, D.C.. Real estate prices down/stagnant. But housing stocks…..up.....riiiiight!.....in the fraudulent "alice-in-wonderland" lunatic world of wall street where down is up and up is down.  Martin Crutsinger, AP Economics Writer, previously wrote,” U.S. Trade Deficit Falls 0.3 Percent in June to $64.8B, Offsetting Jump in Chinese Imports. Dell Recall Stems From sony Production Flaw  WASHINGTON (AP) -- America's trade deficit showed a slight improvement as strong global growth pushed U.S. exports to a record level. That helped offset a surge in Chinese imports and record crude oil prices. The deficit declined 0.3 percent in June, compared with May, dropping to $64.8 billion, still the fifth largest imbalance on record, the Commerce Department reported Thursday. The deficit is running at an annual rate of $768 billion through the first six months of this year, putting the country on track to see a fifth straight record imbalance. Last year's deficit was $716.7 billion. Prior considerations remain apposite in this clearly overvalued market. The frauds on wall street feel compelled to continue their tradition/superstition/fraud tactic of buying on the rumor and selling on the news (fact) of the Fed’s temporary pause in rate hikes. You see, the facts/news do not rationally warrant holding dollar based securities/stocks but provide a means to scam the stupid money, to the benefit of the wall street frauds/scammers and smart money.  Yahoo previously commented: Friday was a wild day on Wall Street with early gains fueled by an encouraging July jobs report being wiped away as the return of concern tied to an economic slowdown outweighed the potential of a pause in tightening at Tuesday's Fed meeting. Before the bell, nonfarm payrolls rose a less than expected 113,000 and the unemployment rate rose for the first time since November, suggesting the labor market is losing steam and reinforcing the view that the economy is on track for a soft landing. To wit, fed funds futures were pricing in a 44% chance....., to which I responded, Wild..... I’ll give you wild: GM says their quarterly loss was $3.4 billion and not 3.2 billion as reported; Ford says their loss was $200 million dollars more than they previously reported and will now join gm in worker buyouts; but both GM and Ford will now offer built-in ipods which should substantially help their core business of building cars; meanwhile, options/accounting scandal/subterfuge occurring at the apple ipod (anything but computers) company. Analyst says GM good news now behind it (past/discounted), yet stock still rose upon said analysis …..riiiiight….. daaaaah! Apple Computer Inc. warned Thursday that it may have to revise its profits dating back to 2002 in a worsening stock option scandal, maybe even suspension, that has cast a harsh light on Silicon Valley's compensation practices. Don’t forget that GDP growth slowed substantially and below expectations at 2.5% which in the alice-in-wonderland lunatic world of wall street is of course good news. Stagflation? The fact is that no rational investor would choose dollar based stocks/securities when they could get less risky/liquid (approx.) 5% yielding cds, money market instruments, short-term treasuries/funds, etc.. However it’s not rational investors that are racking up commission dollars trading in and out of stocks like termites eating away at the huge capital funds which they control. Nothing constituting real value would account for the fraudulent rally mode this and other days. Highly leveraged obfuscating mergers/acquisitions, also very commissionable (investment bankers/brokers), and historically have more often than not ended quite badly; oil prices now above $61; yes, as in the last crash, they will get fooled again’ as stocks up sharply in the fraudulent alice-in-wonderland lunatic world of wall street where down is up and up is down. The stock market has never been so backward-looking. Indeed, amazingly, the pundits/analysts are even talking SEASONAL considerations in their fraud in the inducement which is the height of absurdity (such things are discounted well in advance in a rational market). The once objective, fact-oriented Barrons publication has now become a shill for the continuing fraud on wall street. Bush no conservative says Buckley (who also says that in Europe bush’s failed war policies would have required his expected resignation).....daaaaah!; neither are the hillbillies clintons and papa hillbilly bush. CNN's DOBBS BLASTS U.S. ISRAEL POLICY... BUCHANAN: 'Israel policy violates international law, is un-American and un-Christian'... The government is also catching on and playing the “better than expectations” game with the still very substantial deficit numbers, clouded by the use of social security funds used in the general fund rather than allocated for the defacto bankrupt social security system where they belong. ! Remember, leading economic indicators are down .6 percent continuing an ignored (by wall street frauds) downward trend/weakness extending back to the summer, 2005. Options scandal as was inherent in the (fraudulent) dotcom bust is extent and under way in nasdaq particularly. Spotlight on the Stock Option Scandal-The share prices of companies involved in stock options backdating have held up well compared to the broader market. But shareholders might be in for a rougher ride. Plus, why the Nasdaq has its hands full. I previously warned be very skeptical of up-coming government/corporate/collaborative/wall street data inasmuch as they are quite desperate and have proven [ie., illegal Iraq war/occupation, 911 attack(for the neocon contrived pearl harbor effect)/who ordered NORAD to stand down?/who were the pre911(within days) short-sellers?/ and the twin towers implosion, the missile that hit the pentagon precisely in the area that housed the army investigators who announced days before the opening of an investigation into a substantial pentagon fraud, etc.] that the truth is no obstacle when falsity is expedient and the lunatic frauds on wall street will try to tell you what’s up is down and what’s down is up. Lou Dobbs gets paid a lot of money to keep track of such things and doubts the verity of the government numbers. He is riiiiight! The catch-22 is that the defacto bankrupt u.s. is printing worthless paper (so much so that they’ve stopped reporting M3) and borrowing beyond sustainability, which is hyperinflationary despite false government numbers (ie., core inflation number to fraudulently decrease yield to ibond holders, etc.). Higher interest rates to prop worthless dollar and finance deficits inevitable despite wishin', hopin', and lyin’ to the contrary; foreclosures up, housing down, default notices up 67% (particularly in california, ie., orange, la, ventura, counties etc.) nationwide. Don’t forget: the equity in housing has been stripped out of real estate by way of the refinancing boom, which artificially stimulated the economic numbers while ultimately leaving buyers with debt exceeding actual property values. There is substantial downside bias in light of real economic considerations, particularly beyond the moment/trading day given that this bull (s**t) cycle in this indisputable secular bear market is over. Remember: more contrived wasteful commissions to the wall street frauds, the level and percentage of which should be examined in light of computerization and decreased costs attendant to same especially since only A Small Fraction Of What wall street Does Is A Net Positive For The Economy (New Investment Capital), The Rest Is Tantamount To A (Economically) "Wasteful Tax" (On The Economy) via 'churn and earn' computerized programmed trades.

US '.....going bankrupt'
By Edmund Conway, Economics Editor (Filed: 14/07/2006)

The United States is heading for bankruptcy, according to an extraordinary paper published by one of the key members of the country's central bank.

A ballooning budget deficit and a pensions and welfare timebomb could send the economic superpower into insolvency, according to research by Professor Laurence Kotlikoff for the Federal Reserve Bank of St Louis, a leading constituent of the US Federal Reserve.

Prof Kotlikoff said that, by some measures, the US is already bankrupt. "To paraphrase the Oxford English Dictionary, is the United States at the end of its resources, exhausted, stripped bare, destitute, bereft, wanting in property, or wrecked in consequence of failure to pay its creditors," he asked.

According to his central analysis, "the US government is, indeed, bankrupt, insofar as it will be unable to pay its creditors, who, in this context, are current and future generations to whom it has explicitly or implicitly promised future net payments of various kinds''.

The budget deficit in the US is not massive. The Bush administration this week cut its forecasts for the fiscal shortfall this year by almost a third, saying it will come in at 2.3pc of gross domestic product. This is smaller than most European countries - including the UK - which have deficits north of 3pc of GDP.

Prof Kotlikoff, who teaches at Boston University, says: "The proper way to consider a country's solvency is to examine the lifetime fiscal burdens facing current and future generations. If these burdens exceed the resources of those generations, get close to doing so, or simply get so high as to preclude their full collection, the country's policy will be unsustainable and can constitute or lead to national bankruptcy.

"Does the United States fit this bill? No one knows for sure, but there are strong reasons to believe the United States may be going broke."

Experts have calculated that the country's long-term "fiscal gap" between all future government spending and all future receipts will widen immensely as the Baby Boomer generation retires, and as the amount the state will have to spend on healthcare and pensions soars. The total fiscal gap could be an almost incomprehensible $65.9 trillion, according to a study by Professors Gokhale and Smetters.

The figure is massive because President George W Bush has made major tax cuts in recent years, and because the bill for Medicare, which provides health insurance for the elderly, and Medicaid, which does likewise for the poor, will increase greatly due to demographics.

Prof Kotlikoff said: "This figure is more than five times US GDP and almost twice the size of national wealth. One way to wrap one's head around $65.9trillion is to ask what fiscal adjustments are needed to eliminate this red hole. The answers are terrifying. One solution is an immediate and permanent doubling of personal and corporate income taxes. Another is an immediate and permanent two-thirds cut in Social Security and Medicare benefits. A third alternative, were it feasible, would be to immediately and permanently cut all federal discretionary spending by 143pc."

The scenario has serious implications for the dollar. If investors lose confidence in the US's future, and suspect the country may at some point allow inflation to erode away its debts, they may reduce their holdings of US Treasury bonds.

Prof Kotlikoff said: "The United States has experienced high rates of inflation in the past and appears to be running the same type of fiscal policies that engendered hyperinflations in 20 countries over the past century."

UPDATE - Two former NYSE traders found guilty of fraud

Stock market staggers, but investors still may be too optimistic

Commentary: Newsletters react to stock markets' losing week
By Peter Brimelow, MarketWatch  12:04 AM ET Jul 17, 2006
Investors may still be too optimistic
NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- First, a proprietary word: on Friday night, the Hulbert Stock Newsletter Sentiment Index (HSNSI), which reflects the average recommended stock market exposure among a subset of short-term market timing newsletters tracked by the Hulbert Financial Digest, stood at plus-23.8%. This was certainly below the 31.4% it showed on Tuesday night, when Mark Hulbert worried, presciently we must say, that it was too strong from a contrary opinion point of view. But it's still above its 12.6% reading at end of June, although, Mark pointed out, the stock market had declined in the interim. And since Mark wrote, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has had three triple-digit down days.

Not good.

Dow Theory Letters' Richard Russell wrote Friday morning: "If the Dow breaks support at 10,760, I think we could have some nasty action, even some crash-type action." But, perhaps significantly, Russell did not quite hit the panic button when the Dow did indeed close at 10,739 Friday night.

He simply remarked, supporting the contrary opinion view: "Three days in a row with the Dow down over 100 points each day -- you don't see that very often. But still no signs of real fear, no capitulation, no panic -- just down, down, and down. The key consideration here is that there is still no sign of big money coming into this market. In fact, the big money has been leaving this market all year. ... The longer the market continues down without a panic decline, the worse the ultimate panic will be when it arrives."

What is Wrong with the Stock Market?

Dr. Khaled Batarfi

 

John D. Rockefeller was once asked why he decided to sell all his stocks just months before the 1929 Wall Street Crash. He explained: One morning, I was on the way to my office and stopped to have my shoes polished. The guy asked my advice about the shares he bought. If people with this kind of talent were now playing the market, I knew there was something wrong.....

 

U.S. Treasury balances at Fed fell on July 17Tue Jul 18, 2006

WASHINGTON, July 18 (Reuters) - U.S. Treasury balances at the Federal Reserve, based on the Treasury Department's latest budget statement (billions of dollars, except where noted):

              July 17 July 14 (respectively)

Fed acct  4.087 4.935

Tax/loan note acct 10.502 10.155

Cash balance 14.589 15.192

National debt,

subject to limit 8,311.633 8,323.084

The statutory debt limit is $8.965 trillion.

The Treasury said there were $192 million in individual tax refunds and $23 million in corporate tax refunds issued.

End Of The Bubble Bailouts A. Gary Shilling, Insight 08.29.06 - For a quarter-century, Americans’ spending binge has been fueled by a declining savings rate and increased borrowing. The savings rate of American consumers has fallen from 12% in the early 1980s to -1.7% today (see chart below). This means that, on average, consumer spending has risen about a half percentage point more than disposable, or after-tax, income per year for a quarter-century.

The fact that Americans are saving less and less of their after-tax income is only half the profligate consumer story. If someone borrows to buy a car, his savings rate declines because his outlays go up but his disposable income doesn’t. So the downward march in the personal savings rate is closely linked to the upward march in total consumer debt (mortgage, credit card, auto, etc.) in relation to disposable income (see chart below).

Robust consumer spending was fueled first by the soaring stock market of the 1990s and, more recently, by the housing bubble, as house prices departed from their normal close link to the Consumer Price Index (see chart below) and subsequently racked up huge appreciation for homeowners, who continued to save less and spend more. Thanks to accommodative lenders eager to provide refinancings and home equity loans, Americans extracted $719 billion in cash from their houses last year after a $633 billion withdrawal in 2004, according to the Federal Reserve.

But the housing bubble is deflating rapidly. I expect at least a 20% decline in median single-family house prices nationwide, and that number may be way understated. A bursting of the bubble would force many homeowners to curb their outlays in order to close the gaps between their income and spending growth. That would surely precipitate a major recession that would become global, given the dependence of most foreign countries on U.S. consumers to buy the excess goods and services for which they have no other markets.

That is, unless another source of money can bridge the gap between consumer incomes and outlays, just as house appreciation seamlessly took over when stocks nosedived. What could that big new source of money be? And would it be available soon, given the likelihood that house prices will swoon in coming quarters?

One possible source of big, although not immediate, money to sustain consumer spending is inheritance. Some estimates in the 1990s had the postwar babies, who have saved little for their retirement, inheriting between $10 trillion and $41 trillion from their parents in the coming decades. But subsequent work by AARP, using the Federal Reserve’s Survey of Consumer Finances for 2004 and previous years, slashed the total for inheritances of all people alive today to $12 trillion in 2005 dollars. Most of it, $9.2 trillion, will go to pre-boomers born before 1946, only $2.1 trillion to the postwar babies born between 1946 and 1964, and $0.7 trillion to the post-boomers.

Furthermore, the value of all previous inheritances as reported in the 2004 survey was $49,902 on average, with $70,317 for pre-boomers, $48,768 for boomers and $24,348 for post-boomers. Clearly, these are not numbers that provide for comfortable retirements and, therefore, allow people to continue to spend like drunken sailors.

What other assets could consumers borrow against or liquidate to support spending growth in the future? After all, they do have a lot of net worth, almost $54 trillion for households and nonprofit organizations as of the end of the first quarter. Nevertheless, there aren’t any other big assets left to tap. Another big stock bonanza is unlikely for decades, and the real estate bubble is deflating.

Deposits total $6.3 trillion, but the majority, $4.9 trillion worth, is in time and savings deposits, largely held for retirement by financially conservative people. Is it likely that a speculator who owns five houses has sizable time deposits to fall back on? Households and nonprofits hold $3.2 trillion in bonds and other credit market instruments, but most owned by individuals are in conservative hands. Life insurance reserves can be borrowed, but their total size, $1.1 trillion, pales in comparison to the $1.8 trillion that homeowners extracted from their houses in the 2003-2005 years. There’s $6.7 trillion of equity in noncorporate business, but the vast majority of that is needed by typically cash-poor small businesses to keep their doors open.

Pension funds might be a source of cash for consumers who want to live it up now and take the Scarlett O’Hara, “I’ll worry about that tomorrow” attitude toward retirement. They totaled $11.1 trillion in the first quarter, but that number includes public funds and private defined benefit plans that are seldom available to pre-retirees unless they leave their jobs.

The private defined contribution plans, typically 401(k)s, totaled $2.5 trillion in 2004 and have been growing rapidly because employers favor them. But sadly, many employees, especially those at lower income levels, don’t share their bosses’ zeal. Only about 70% participate in their company 401(k) plans and thereby take advantage of company contributions. Lower paid employees are especially absent from participation, with 40% of those making less than $20,000 contributing (60% of those earning $20,000 to $40,000), while 90% of employees earning $100,000 or more participate.

Furthermore, the amount that employees could net from withdrawals from defined contribution plans would be far less than the $2.5 trillion total, probably less than the $1.8 trillion they pulled out of their houses from 2003 to 2005. That $2.5 trillion total includes company contributions that are not yet vested and can’t be withdrawn. Also, withdrawals by those under 59½ years old are subject to a 10% penalty, with income taxes due on the remainder.

With soaring stock portfolios now ancient history and leaping house prices about to be, no other sources, such as inheritance or pension fund withdrawals, are likely to fill the gap between robust consumer spending and weak income growth. Consumer retrenchment and the saving spree I’ve been expecting may finally be about to commence. And the effects on consumer behavior, especially on borrowing and discretionary spending, will be broad and deep.

Analysts' Forecasts and Brokerage-Firm Trading
THE ACCOUNTING REVIEW Vol. 79, No. 1 2004 pp. 125–149 Analysts’ Forecasts and
Brokerage-Firm Trading
Paul J. Irvine Emory University University of Georgia
Collectively, these results suggest that analysts can generate higher trading commissions through their positive stock recommendations than by biasing their forecasts.

WHISPERS OF MERGERS SET OFF BOUTS OF SUSPICIOUS TRADING...
August 27, 2006 NYTimes By GRETCHEN MORGENSONThe boom in corporate mergers is creating concern that illicit trading ahead of deal announcements is becoming a systemic problem.

(12-22-06) Stocks drop still only modestly relative to reality with suckers bear market rally still intact as the wall street fraud continues to suck the suckers in; ie., as the Dow Jones industrial average fell 78.03, S&P fell 7.54 ,and NASDAQ fell 14.67 , all very commissionable on heavy volume, as in final pre-election result push for bush, which fell very short. Highest increase (2%) in 30 years for the wholesale price index, and as well, the core ppi (1.3%), GDP growth less than expected at 2%, dollar sharply lower, oil prices up, building permits down, all unexpectedly bad but great news in the fraudulent alice-in-wonderland lunatic world of wall street. New Record Quarterly Trade Deficit initially spurred lunatic market rally along with obfuscating but very commissionable merger activity. Core inflation a very unexpected unchanged .....riiiiight!.....spurs superstitious, devoid of reality, santa rally.  Investment Banks Post Record 2006 Profit .....daaaaah! Churning and earning on worthless paper, where is that commission dollar coming from even as america has ceded solvency/leadership in every economic measure. Even at the lofty record numbers the indices are worth roughly half their value based on precipitous fall of the dollar in only 5 years with further downside to go. Superstitious ‘Santa Claus rally’.....riiiiight! High oil price rally.....riiiiight!  Total  bulls**t ! Retail sales up a very unexpected 1%, riiiiight, at the same time inventories of such goods rising substantially (do you think they’re booking sales to ‘straw men/companies’.....I do!) and oil inventories down. Fake employment numbers (from the government.....riiiiight!) the impetus for previous b.s. rally despite falling sentiment and uptick in unemployment. The ism services index (financed by unsustainable deficit/debt spending and pushing/commissioning worthless paper) and jawboning/bulls**t from the housing industry (the end is near.....riiiiight!), obfuscating mergers continued to cloud the picture, closely-watched core-PCE deflator had risen a more than expected 0.2%, second sub-50 reading on manufacturing activity in as many sessions-the November ISM index unexpectedly fell to 49.5 (consensus 52.0), Chicago PMI fell to its lowest level (49.9%) in October, and below the 50 level, indicating contraction, crude prices up  (OIL PRICES RISE ABOVE $63 A BARREL...), DOLLAR RESUMES SLIDE, Fed Chairman Bernanke & Co. cheerleading/jawboning/bulls**t, 3.2% decline in new home sales, oil inventories down and oil prices up, oil producers shun the dollar, Russia and Opec shift revenues into euros, yen and sterling..., all very bad news anywhere but in the fraudulent alice-in-wonderland world of wall street. Durable goods orders fell sharply, sentiment down, but supposedly used home sales rose slightly (riiiiight.....who says; the realtors/government who have been talking up this bubble market?) albeit at sharply lower prices. DOLLAR PLUNGES TO NEAR 15-YEAR LOW  In other words, no good news to justify the ridiculous up move by the alice-in-wonderland frauds of wall street. Worthless dollar, triple deficits, stock/options scandals/corruption, as some speculate that fed is behind purchases/manipulation (through proxy) of worthless american paper now being shunned by more rational market players abroad.  MARKETS ROCKED BY LONG OVERDUE BUT STILL MODEST RELATIVE TO REALITY SHARP SLIDE IN DOLLAR...There has never been a time since 1929 when stock prices and p/e ratios were so irrationally high for this point in a bull cycle in this indisputable secular bear market, particularly with the existing unprecedented structural economic problems, ie., trade and budget deficits, worthless dollar, scandals, fraud, corruption , etc.. In fact, unemployment unexpectedly rose substantially and consumer sentiment unexpectedly but similarly realistically fell, both very negative exept in the  fraudulent alice-in-wonderland world of wall street. Indeed, the housing bubble bursting with ie., unexpected 14% decline in starts/permits, etc., led to rally in the fraudulent alice-in-wonderland world of wall street. Obfuscating mergers help preclude detection of this massive and pervasive fraud which defies analysis owing to these mergers. New talking pointing: dell numbers exceed expectations depending upon ongoing government scrutiny of their accounting practices.....riiiiight! More contrived manipulated markets and data well as that previous unexpected rise in that global hub of manufacturing activity, New York (worthless paper is their real product, etc.) …..riiiiight!….. underpins fraudulent up move. Reassuring Fed speak, also known as b**l s**t, along with IPO’s (get the suckers in at the highs as in late 90’s market bubble), and shrugging off pervasive stock/options fraud as at, ie., KB Homes, etc., leave stocks ridiculously higher. Nations leaving the worthless dollar in droves for currencies backed by value and for precious metals. Based on the self-interested statement of typical fraud american and fed rep, we hear once again the wishful thought that housing has bottomed.....right! [Reality/Truth: US housing slump deepens, spreads]. Home depot rallies despite lower than expected results and lower guidance for the year.....right! Who is stupid enough to believe anything the fraudulent criminal americans say. They are printing worthless dollars like mad. Consumer sentiment actually previously fell and there was nothing but wall street lunacy to prop the fraudulent market. The republicans who lockstepped with war criminal dumbya bush deserved to lose. The frauds on wall street now looking for the new corporate welfare program for which to sell the sizzle ie., stem cells, etc.. The know-nothing pundits are now saying the up move without any rational basis is predicated upon the the falsity that gridlock in washington is welcomed and good because no regulation of, ie., fraud on wall street, etc., can be passed. How about a tax on stock trades to come directly from the traders' (traitors/frauds) bottom lines and provide a disincentive for the churn-and-earn fraud which is tantamount to a wasteful tax on the economy. Even token Christian paulison from jew fraud wall street couldn't stem the tide against the blatent zionist/neocon/bush co failure accross the board as the wall street frauds show record profits financed, albeit indirectly, by huge deficits, both trade and budget. Obfuscating mergers blur the picture to provide cover for up move talking points in defiance of reality.  Stagflation and full employment revisions pre-election.....riiiiight. Productivity comes in at a less than expected 0 (inflationary). The only surprise should have been that the number wasn't negative. The pundits are now saying that the market/wall street fraud is in a state of denial regarding economic fundamentals and that the market is substantially overbought, overvalued, overfrauded, over, etc., the manufacturing index coming in lower than expectations. Consumer sentiment unexpectedly fell.....daaaaah. Pre-election core inflation rate report good …..riiiiight…..but savings rate still negative and walmart sales/profits/outlook substantially below expectations but what the heck, they’re wallstreet lunatics/frauds and reality is no problem. Despite pre-election deficit spending, GNP comes in a less than expected paltry 1.6% increase with worthless falling dollar the catch-22 precluding reality avoidance and the worst yet to come. More nations leaving the worthless dollar as reserve currency even as frauds on wall street reach new highs (What are they smoking? Coking? or like the dollar just cracking) based on corporate welfare flows with money the nation doesn't have pre-election (record deficits). Housing prices continue their sharp decline as bubble deflates. GM only lost 115 million. Ford lost 5.8 billion and must restate earnings back to year 2000 is a bullish sign in the fraudulent alice-in-wonderland lunatic world of wall street. Typical pre-fed meeting rally to provide a cushion for any negative pronouncements which reality would require but are seldom forthcoming by the accommodative frauds who have similarly embraced unreality. Indeed, the gutless wimps of wall street think they're "tough" when they fraudulently take the market higher despite a clearly contrary fact based reality. Caterpillar relates the pervasive reality and the frauds on wallstreet intimidate same with sell off, ignoring pervasive options scandal/fraud and rallies Merck despite lower than expectation results.....riiiiight! Election year corporate welfare to prime the pump and the mock stock market with money the nation doesn’t have (increasing already huge deficits). CPI figures (upon which government inflation adjusted payment obligations are based) lower than expected…..riiiiight! Intel earnings/revenues down sharply but according to the lunatic frauds on wall street, beat expectations and stock rallies along with yahoo which as in the pre-dot com bust days says better days are a coming….. riiiiight Core inflation rate which is closely watched by the Fed exceeds all expectations. Fraud Merrill Lynch has really been pushing and commissioning that worthless paper and reports record earnings, despite having produced nothing and for very little if any value added (that ill-gotten money has to come from somewhere-your pockets?). The big economic report awaiting scrutiny was the monthly trade deficit which was expected to narrow but in fact INCREASED to 69.9 billion. The alice-in-wonderland lunatic wall street frauds rallied on the news as the dollar precipitously fell. The Fed Chairman said there is a "substantial correction" in housing, which will probably shave about 1% off growth in the second half of the year. The Institute of Supply Management said its services index fell to 52.9 in September -- the lowest level since April 2003. Great News….. riiiiight!..... Consumer Confidence Higher Than Expected... riiiiight!..... and housing starts were down sharply but not-as-bad-as-expectations game in play US Existing Home Sales Fall 0.5% in August; Sales Price Drops Existing-home prices fall for 1st time in 11 years along with fed jaw-boning pre-election that inflation has been licked .....riiiiight …..despite printing worthless dollars like they’re going out of style because they really are! Fed did nothing and stocks rallied, pre-election.....riiiiight! What about the reality of u.s. debt service at a record unsustainable $2 billion per day on a revolving $2 trillion charge account with ie., China, etc.. The fact that foreclosures are up and that there is projected new trade deficit record, fake government inflation numbers for election year purposes, housing starts down 6% means little to the alice-in-wonderland lunatic frauds of wall street and the so-called pundits including yahoo below. Almost all computerized volume is and must be considered heavy, manipulated, economically wasteful volume [stocks move contrary to rational analytical facts (ie., exceeded lowered expectations, things so bad interest rates can’t rise, exceeded expectations, no earnings but outlook extraordinary, the fed says booo as they print more worthless dollars to finance deficits, etc. ) is money in the bank for the frauds on wall street when they unwind said irrational positions ]. Philadelphia Federal Reserve announces that its broadest measure of manufacturing activity fell to a negative reading for the first time since April 2003, leading economic indicators fall .2%, and previously fell .1% though expected to show an increase, and in addition to the larger than expected 4.1% drop in July existing home sales to its lowest level in over two years and lifted inventories to record levels , new home sales fell 4.3%, and a larger than expected 2.4% decline in July durable orders which are negatives anywhere but in the alice-in-wonderland lunatic world of wall street where same is greeted as good news as also follows with b**l s**t from Yahoo (which didn’t even reference the record unanticipated trade gap):

Yale Makes Big Changes to MBA Program

AP - For one group of graduate business students at Yale, next month's lessons will take place on pineapple, banana and coffee plantations in Costa Rica.

Goodyear, Strikers Reach Tentative Deal AP
Denver Airport Reopens; Mess Lingers
AP
Court Cuts Valdez Judgment Against Exxon
AP
Macy's Pulls Sean John Hooded Jackets
AP

With only four trading days left in 2006, today officially marked the start of the classic year-end Santa Claus rally, according to the Stock Trader's Almanac. As has been the case with stocks showing weakness on the last trading day before Christmas over the last four years, however, today was no exception.Be that as it may, with the belief stocks are overbought on a short-term basis resurfacing to consolidate some of the market's five-month rally, thin volumes heading into the long holiday weekend offered very little in the way of conviction on the part of sellers. The NYSE did not even see 1.0 bln shares trade hands. Before the bell, the Commerce Dept. showed that personal spending in November rose the most since July. With the Fed recently saying that some inflation risks remain, leaving their focus on "incoming" data to dictate monetary policy decisions, the accompanying core-PCE deflator (and Fed's favored inflation gauge) checking in flat (0.0%) also helped to support the possibility of a "soft landing." After all, today's report follows 0.2% gains over the prior two months, lends some credence to last Friday's similar 0.0% reading on core-CPI and increases the likelihood of a Fed easing in early 2007 since it is evident that inflation pressures are definitely moderating.Nonetheless, with such moderation coming at the expense of slower economic growth, a stock market more concerned about the strength of the economy than inflation for the time being, a mixed durable orders report provided an ideal excuse to take some more money off the table. As a reminder, the Dow has hit new record highs more than 20 times since October while the S&P 500 and Nasdaq have posted respective gains of 15% and 19% since bottoming out in July.Durable orders rose a larger than expected 1.9% in November (consensus 1.5%); but non-defense capital goods excluding transportation orders, which are sometimes considered a barometer of underlying business investment trends, fell 1.4%. Not surprisingly, the Industrials sector was one of today's worst performers.Of the other nine sectors closing lower, Technology paced the way to the downside, and the absence of such influential leadership acted as the largest obstacle for the bulls to overcome Friday. Qualcomm (QCOM 37.81 -0.73) was one of the sector's biggest disappointments, plunging nearly 2.0% after cutting its Q1 profit forecasts.One bright spot that played into our Overweight rating on Tech, though, was Micron Technology (MU 13.94 +0.45). The stock surged 3.3% after first quarter profits tripled, but was unable to offer much support for the rest of the semiconductor space. Red Hat (RHT 22.46 +4.50) also soared (+25%) after beating Wall Street forecasts and issuing upside Q4 guidance; but since its Linux platform rivals Windows, Dow component Microsoft (MSFT 29.64 -0.34) tumbled 1.1% at the expense of Red Hat's victory lap.Energy was another constraint on the broader market as a pullback in oil prices prompted another round of consolidation in one of this year's best performers. Thus, the absence of leadership from the biggest contributor to earnings growth on the S&P 500 over the last several quarters overshadowed the diminished inflationary potential of lower energy prices and simply acted as another headwind for buyers.A report at 10:00 ET showing sentiment strengthened slightly over the last couple of weeks offered some solace when it was released. But the study compiled by the University of Michigan checking in stronger than expected merely provided bond traders with more fodder to lock in recent gains as well. As a result, a sell-off in Treasuries lifting bond yields across the curve weighed heavily on the rate-sensitive Financials sector, leaving the bulls waiting until after the holidays to try to finish the rally they started five months ago. The 10-year note tumbled 19 ticks, lifting the yield to 4.62% and sparking valuation concerns in stocks across the board. BTK +0.4% DJ30 -78.03 DJTA -0.7% DJUA -0.2% DOT -0.7% NASDAQ -14.67 NQ100 -1.0% R2K -0.3% SOX -0.6% SP400 -0.4% SP500 -7.54 XOI -1.2% NASDAQ Dec/Adv/Vol 1709/1312/1.32 bln NYSE Dec/Adv/Vol 1966/1240/942 mln

The current-account trade deficit increased 3.9 percent to an all-time high of $225.6 billion in the July-September quarter, the Commerce Department reported Monday. That third-quarter deficit was equal to 6.8 percent of the total economy, up from 6.6 percent of gross domestic product in the second quarter. The current account is the broadest measure of trade because it tracks not only the flow of goods and services across borders but also investment flows. It represents the amount of money that must be borrowed from foreigners to make up the difference between imports and exports. At current levels, the United States is borrowing more than $2 billion a day from foreigners to finance the trade deficit.

U.S. HOUSING SLUMP DEEPENS, SPREADS
BARRIE MCKENNA Washington — First, Americans quit buying homes. Now, they may have stopped fixing and furnishing them too. Home Depot Inc. reported a 3-per-cent drop in profit in the three months that ended in October, amid mounting evidence that the U.S. housing slump is getting worse. “I don't think we've seen the bottom yet, and I don't see anything that says it's going to get significantly better in 2007,” said Bob Nardelli, Home Depot's chairman and chief executive officer. Mr. Nardelli said job losses in the home construction market are the worst he's seen in 35 years, and the pain is starting to spread to the home renovation market. “The loss of jobs ... in the home construction market is at unprecedented levels,” Mr. Nardelli told analysts on a conference call Tuesday. “Home builders [are] basically writing off earnest money and liquidating land. We're starting to see a lot of that unemployment find its way over to the small repair and remodel contractors.” Problems in the housing sector have also begun to affect how consumers spend their money. In October, U.S. retail sales fell at an annual rate of 0.2 per cent — the third consecutive monthly decline, according to a U.S. Commerce Department report Tuesday. The decline was heavily influenced by lower gasoline prices, which resulted in less revenue for gas stations. But there were also sharp declines in building materials (down 0.3 per cent), furniture (down 0.7 per cent) and department store sales (down 0.7 per cent). Over the past three months, sales of building materials have plunged at an annual rate of 10.6 per cent. “The housing slowdown left its grimy fingerprints all over this report,” BMO Nesbitt Burns economist Douglas Porter said in a note to clients. Lower gasoline prices don't seem to be causing consumers to spend elsewhere, as many economists had predicted. Even if you strip out volatile gas, food and auto sales, all other retail sales rose a meagre 0.1 per cent October. “People are being very cautious,” said Ian Shepherdson, chief North American economist at High Frequency Economics. “The housing crunch is now hurting.” At least two other bellwether U.S. retailers — Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Target Corp. — reported Tuesday that their sales and profit remain strong, in spite of the problems in the housing sector. But executives at Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, acknowledged that sales in the third quarter were disappointing and it is already vowing its biggest-ever discounting binge on items such as toys and electronics to keep cash registers ringing this Christmas. “This season, no one will doubt Wal-Mart's leadership on price and value,” Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott said. Wal-Mart's profit rose to $2.65-billion (U.S.) or 63 cents a share in the third quarter that ended Oct. 31, up from $2.37-billion or 57 cents a year earlier. That was slightly below what analysts had expected, according to Reuters. Sales were up 12 per cent to $83.5-billion. But those figures include sales at newly opened stores and foreign stores. Sales at U.S. stores that have been open at least a year were up just 1.5 per cent, and Mr. Scott said fourth-quarter sales would rise just 1 to 2 per cent.

There is nothing to rationally justify the previous up move or mixed results in the market other than what is tantamount to a negative, and based upon spurious data from the government; ie., fake government numbers said total PPI rose a smaller than expected 0.1% (consensus 0.4%) in July, which was well below the 0.5% jump in June, while the more closely watched core rate (ex-food and energy) unexpectedly (RIIIIIGHT!) fell 0.3% (consensus +0.2%) -- the first decline since October and the largest drop since a 0.5% decline in April 2003. Home Sales Decline in 28 States, D.C.. Real estate prices down/stagnant. But housing stocks…..up.....riiiiight!.....in the fraudulent "alice-in-wonderland" lunatic world of wall street where down is up and up is down.  Martin Crutsinger, AP Economics Writer, previously wrote,” U.S. Trade Deficit Falls 0.3 Percent in June to $64.8B, Offsetting Jump in Chinese Imports. Dell Recall Stems From sony Production Flaw  WASHINGTON (AP) -- America's trade deficit showed a slight improvement as strong global growth pushed U.S. exports to a record level. That helped offset a surge in Chinese imports and record crude oil prices. The deficit declined 0.3 percent in June, compared with May, dropping to $64.8 billion, still the fifth largest imbalance on record, the Commerce Department reported Thursday. The deficit is running at an annual rate of $768 billion through the first six months of this year, putting the country on track to see a fifth straight record imbalance. Last year's deficit was $716.7 billion. Prior considerations remain apposite in this clearly overvalued market. The frauds on wall street feel compelled to continue their tradition/superstition/fraud tactic of buying on the rumor and selling on the news (fact) of the Fed’s temporary pause in rate hikes. You see, the facts/news do not rationally warrant holding dollar based securities/stocks but provide a means to scam the stupid money, to the benefit of the wall street frauds/scammers and smart money.  Yahoo previously commented: Friday was a wild day on Wall Street with early gains fueled by an encouraging July jobs report being wiped away as the return of concern tied to an economic slowdown outweighed the potential of a pause in tightening at Tuesday's Fed meeting. Before the bell, nonfarm payrolls rose a less than expected 113,000 and the unemployment rate rose for the first time since November, suggesting the labor market is losing steam and reinforcing the view that the economy is on track for a soft landing. To wit, fed funds futures were pricing in a 44% chance....., to which I responded, Wild..... I’ll give you wild: GM says their quarterly loss was $3.4 billion and not 3.2 billion as reported; Ford says their loss was $200 million dollars more than they previously reported and will now join gm in worker buyouts; but both GM and Ford will now offer built-in ipods which should substantially help their core business of building cars; meanwhile, options/accounting scandal/subterfuge occurring at the apple ipod (anything but computers) company. Analyst says GM good news now behind it (past/discounted), yet stock still rose upon said analysis …..riiiiight….. daaaaah! Apple Computer Inc. warned Thursday that it may have to revise its profits dating back to 2002 in a worsening stock option scandal, maybe even suspension, that has cast a harsh light on Silicon Valley's compensation practices. Don’t forget that GDP growth slowed substantially and below expectations at 2.5% which in the alice-in-wonderland lunatic world of wall street is of course good news. Stagflation? The fact is that no rational investor would choose dollar based stocks/securities when they could get less risky/liquid (approx.) 5% yielding cds, money market instruments, short-term treasuries/funds, etc.. However it’s not rational investors that are racking up commission dollars trading in and out of stocks like termites eating away at the huge capital funds which they control. Nothing constituting real value would account for the fraudulent rally mode this and other days. Highly leveraged obfuscating mergers/acquisitions, also very commissionable (investment bankers/brokers), and historically have more often than not ended quite badly; oil prices now above $63; yes, as in the last crash, they will get fooled again’ as stocks up sharply in the fraudulent alice-in-wonderland lunatic world of wall street where down is up and up is down. The stock market has never been so backward-looking. Indeed, amazingly, the pundits/analysts are even talking SEASONAL considerations in their fraud in the inducement which is the height of absurdity (such things are discounted well in advance in a rational market). The once objective, fact-oriented Barrons publication has now become a shill for the continuing fraud on wall street. Bush no conservative says Buckley (who also says that in Europe bush’s failed war policies would have required his expected resignation).....daaaaah!; neither are the hillbillies clintons and papa hillbilly bush. CNN's DOBBS BLASTS U.S. ISRAEL POLICY... BUCHANAN: 'Israel policy violates international law, is un-American and un-Christian'... The government is also catching on and playing the “better than expectations” game with the still very substantial deficit numbers, clouded by the use of social security funds used in the general fund rather than allocated for the defacto bankrupt social security system where they belong. ! Remember, leading economic indicators are down .6 percent continuing an ignored (by wall street frauds) downward trend/weakness extending back to the summer, 2005. Options scandal as was inherent in the (fraudulent) dotcom bust is extent and under way in nasdaq particularly. Spotlight on the Stock Option Scandal-The share prices of companies involved in stock options backdating have held up well compared to the broader market. But shareholders might be in for a rougher ride. Plus, why the Nasdaq has its hands full. I previously warned be very skeptical of up-coming government/corporate/collaborative/wall street data inasmuch as they are quite desperate and have proven [ie., illegal Iraq war/occupation, 911 attack(for the neocon contrived pearl harbor effect)/who ordered NORAD to stand down?/who were the pre911(within days) short-sellers?/ and the twin towers implosion, the missile that hit the pentagon precisely in the area that housed the army investigators who announced days before the opening of an investigation into a substantial pentagon fraud, etc.] that the truth is no obstacle when falsity is expedient and the lunatic frauds on wall street will try to tell you what’s up is down and what’s down is up. Lou Dobbs gets paid a lot of money to keep track of such things and doubts the verity of the government numbers. He is riiiiight! The catch-22 is that the defacto bankrupt u.s. is printing worthless paper (so much so that they’ve stopped reporting M3) and borrowing beyond sustainability, which is hyperinflationary despite false government numbers (ie., core inflation number to fraudulently decrease yield to ibond holders, etc.). Higher interest rates to prop worthless dollar and finance deficits inevitable despite wishin', hopin', and lyin’ to the contrary; foreclosures up, housing down, default notices up 67% (particularly in california, ie., orange, la, ventura, counties etc.) nationwide. Don’t forget: the equity in housing has been stripped out of real estate by way of the refinancing boom, which artificially stimulated the economic numbers while ultimately leaving buyers with debt exceeding actual property values. There is substantial downside bias in light of real economic considerations, particularly beyond the moment/trading day given that this bull (s**t) cycle in this indisputable secular bear market is over. Remember: more contrived wasteful commissions to the wall street frauds, the level and percentage of which should be examined in light of computerization and decreased costs attendant to same especially since only A Small Fraction Of What wall street Does Is A Net Positive For The Economy (New Investment Capital), The Rest Is Tantamount To A (Economically) "Wasteful Tax" (On The Economy) via 'churn and earn' computerized programmed trades.

US '.....going bankrupt'
By Edmund Conway, Economics Editor (Filed: 14/07/2006)

The United States is heading for bankruptcy, according to an extraordinary paper published by one of the key members of the country's central bank.

A ballooning budget deficit and a pensions and welfare timebomb could send the economic superpower into insolvency, according to research by Professor Laurence Kotlikoff for the Federal Reserve Bank of St Louis, a leading constituent of the US Federal Reserve.

Prof Kotlikoff said that, by some measures, the US is already bankrupt. "To paraphrase the Oxford English Dictionary, is the United States at the end of its resources, exhausted, stripped bare, destitute, bereft, wanting in property, or wrecked in consequence of failure to pay its creditors," he asked.

According to his central analysis, "the US government is, indeed, bankrupt, insofar as it will be unable to pay its creditors, who, in this context, are current and future generations to whom it has explicitly or implicitly promised future net payments of various kinds''.

The budget deficit in the US is not massive. The Bush administration this week cut its forecasts for the fiscal shortfall this year by almost a third, saying it will come in at 2.3pc of gross domestic product. This is smaller than most European countries - including the UK - which have deficits north of 3pc of GDP.

Prof Kotlikoff, who teaches at Boston University, says: "The proper way to consider a country's solvency is to examine the lifetime fiscal burdens facing current and future generations. If these burdens exceed the resources of those generations, get close to doing so, or simply get so high as to preclude their full collection, the country's policy will be unsustainable and can constitute or lead to national bankruptcy.

"Does the United States fit this bill? No one knows for sure, but there are strong reasons to believe the United States may be going broke."

Experts have calculated that the country's long-term "fiscal gap" between all future government spending and all future receipts will widen immensely as the Baby Boomer generation retires, and as the amount the state will have to spend on healthcare and pensions soars. The total fiscal gap could be an almost incomprehensible $65.9 trillion, according to a study by Professors Gokhale and Smetters.

The figure is massive because President George W Bush has made major tax cuts in recent years, and because the bill for Medicare, which provides health insurance for the elderly, and Medicaid, which does likewise for the poor, will increase greatly due to demographics.

Prof Kotlikoff said: "This figure is more than five times US GDP and almost twice the size of national wealth. One way to wrap one's head around $65.9trillion is to ask what fiscal adjustments are needed to eliminate this red hole. The answers are terrifying. One solution is an immediate and permanent doubling of personal and corporate income taxes. Another is an immediate and permanent two-thirds cut in Social Security and Medicare benefits. A third alternative, were it feasible, would be to immediately and permanently cut all federal discretionary spending by 143pc."

The scenario has serious implications for the dollar. If investors lose confidence in the US's future, and suspect the country may at some point allow inflation to erode away its debts, they may reduce their holdings of US Treasury bonds.

Prof Kotlikoff said: "The United States has experienced high rates of inflation in the past and appears to be running the same type of fiscal policies that engendered hyperinflations in 20 countries over the past century."

UPDATE - Two former NYSE traders found guilty of fraud

Stock market staggers, but investors still may be too optimistic

Commentary: Newsletters react to stock markets' losing week
By Peter Brimelow, MarketWatch  12:04 AM ET Jul 17, 2006
Investors may still be too optimistic
NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- First, a proprietary word: on Friday night, the Hulbert Stock Newsletter Sentiment Index (HSNSI), which reflects the average recommended stock market exposure among a subset of short-term market timing newsletters tracked by the Hulbert Financial Digest, stood at plus-23.8%. This was certainly below the 31.4% it showed on Tuesday night, when Mark Hulbert worried, presciently we must say, that it was too strong from a contrary opinion point of view. But it's still above its 12.6% reading at end of June, although, Mark pointed out, the stock market had declined in the interim. And since Mark wrote, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has had three triple-digit down days.

Not good.

Dow Theory Letters' Richard Russell wrote Friday morning: "If the Dow breaks support at 10,760, I think we could have some nasty action, even some crash-type action." But, perhaps significantly, Russell did not quite hit the panic button when the Dow did indeed close at 10,739 Friday night.

He simply remarked, supporting the contrary opinion view: "Three days in a row with the Dow down over 100 points each day -- you don't see that very often. But still no signs of real fear, no capitulation, no panic -- just down, down, and down. The key consideration here is that there is still no sign of big money coming into this market. In fact, the big money has been leaving this market all year. ... The longer the market continues down without a panic decline, the worse the ultimate panic will be when it arrives."

What is Wrong with the Stock Market?

Dr. Khaled Batarfi

 

John D. Rockefeller was once asked why he decided to sell all his stocks just months before the 1929 Wall Street Crash. He explained: One morning, I was on the way to my office and stopped to have my shoes polished. The guy asked my advice about the shares he bought. If people with this kind of talent were now playing the market, I knew there was something wrong.....

 

U.S. Treasury balances at Fed fell on July 17Tue Jul 18, 2006

WASHINGTON, July 18 (Reuters) - U.S. Treasury balances at the Federal Reserve, based on the Treasury Department's latest budget statement (billions of dollars, except where noted):

              July 17 July 14 (respectively)

Fed acct  4.087 4.935

Tax/loan note acct 10.502 10.155

Cash balance 14.589 15.192

National debt,

subject to limit 8,311.633 8,323.084

The statutory debt limit is $8.965 trillion.

The Treasury said there were $192 million in individual tax refunds and $23 million in corporate tax refunds issued.

End Of The Bubble Bailouts A. Gary Shilling, Insight 08.29.06 - For a quarter-century, Americans’ spending binge has been fueled by a declining savings rate and increased borrowing. The savings rate of American consumers has fallen from 12% in the early 1980s to -1.7% today (see chart below). This means that, on average, consumer spending has risen about a half percentage point more than disposable, or after-tax, income per year for a quarter-century.

The fact that Americans are saving less and less of their after-tax income is only half the profligate consumer story. If someone borrows to buy a car, his savings rate declines because his outlays go up but his disposable income doesn’t. So the downward march in the personal savings rate is closely linked to the upward march in total consumer debt (mortgage, credit card, auto, etc.) in relation to disposable income (see chart below).

Robust consumer spending was fueled first by the soaring stock market of the 1990s and, more recently, by the housing bubble, as house prices departed from their normal close link to the Consumer Price Index (see chart below) and subsequently racked up huge appreciation for homeowners, who continued to save less and spend more. Thanks to accommodative lenders eager to provide refinancings and home equity loans, Americans extracted $719 billion in cash from their houses last year after a $633 billion withdrawal in 2004, according to the Federal Reserve.

But the housing bubble is deflating rapidly. I expect at least a 20% decline in median single-family house prices nationwide, and that number may be way understated. A bursting of the bubble would force many homeowners to curb their outlays in order to close the gaps between their income and spending growth. That would surely precipitate a major recession that would become global, given the dependence of most foreign countries on U.S. consumers to buy the excess goods and services for which they have no other markets.

That is, unless another source of money can bridge the gap between consumer incomes and outlays, just as house appreciation seamlessly took over when stocks nosedived. What could that big new source of money be? And would it be available soon, given the likelihood that house prices will swoon in coming quarters?

One possible source of big, although not immediate, money to sustain consumer spending is inheritance. Some estimates in the 1990s had the postwar babies, who have saved little for their retirement, inheriting between $10 trillion and $41 trillion from their parents in the coming decades. But subsequent work by AARP, using the Federal Reserve’s Survey of Consumer Finances for 2004 and previous years, slashed the total for inheritances of all people alive today to $12 trillion in 2005 dollars. Most of it, $9.2 trillion, will go to pre-boomers born before 1946, only $2.1 trillion to the postwar babies born between 1946 and 1964, and $0.7 trillion to the post-boomers.

Furthermore, the value of all previous inheritances as reported in the 2004 survey was $49,902 on average, with $70,317 for pre-boomers, $48,768 for boomers and $24,348 for post-boomers. Clearly, these are not numbers that provide for comfortable retirements and, therefore, allow people to continue to spend like drunken sailors.

What other assets could consumers borrow against or liquidate to support spending growth in the future? After all, they do have a lot of net worth, almost $54 trillion for households and nonprofit organizations as of the end of the first quarter. Nevertheless, there aren’t any other big assets left to tap. Another big stock bonanza is unlikely for decades, and the real estate bubble is deflating.

Deposits total $6.3 trillion, but the majority, $4.9 trillion worth, is in time and savings deposits, largely held for retirement by financially conservative people. Is it likely that a speculator who owns five houses has sizable time deposits to fall back on? Households and nonprofits hold $3.2 trillion in bonds and other credit market instruments, but most owned by individuals are in conservative hands. Life insurance reserves can be borrowed, but their total size, $1.1 trillion, pales in comparison to the $1.8 trillion that homeowners extracted from their houses in the 2003-2005 years. There’s $6.7 trillion of equity in noncorporate business, but the vast majority of that is needed by typically cash-poor small businesses to keep their doors open.

Pension funds might be a source of cash for consumers who want to live it up now and take the Scarlett O’Hara, “I’ll worry about that tomorrow” attitude toward retirement. They totaled $11.1 trillion in the first quarter, but that number includes public funds and private defined benefit plans that are seldom available to pre-retirees unless they leave their jobs.

The private defined contribution plans, typically 401(k)s, totaled $2.5 trillion in 2004 and have been growing rapidly because employers favor them. But sadly, many employees, especially those at lower income levels, don’t share their bosses’ zeal. Only about 70% participate in their company 401(k) plans and thereby take advantage of company contributions. Lower paid employees are especially absent from participation, with 40% of those making less than $20,000 contributing (60% of those earning $20,000 to $40,000), while 90% of employees earning $100,000 or more participate.

Furthermore, the amount that employees could net from withdrawals from defined contribution plans would be far less than the $2.5 trillion total, probably less than the $1.8 trillion they pulled out of their houses from 2003 to 2005. That $2.5 trillion total includes company contributions that are not yet vested and can’t be withdrawn. Also, withdrawals by those under 59½ years old are subject to a 10% penalty, with income taxes due on the remainder.

With soaring stock portfolios now ancient history and leaping house prices about to be, no other sources, such as inheritance or pension fund withdrawals, are likely to fill the gap between robust consumer spending and weak income growth. Consumer retrenchment and the saving spree I’ve been expecting may finally be about to commence. And the effects on consumer behavior, especially on borrowing and discretionary spending, will be broad and deep.

Analysts' Forecasts and Brokerage-Firm Trading
THE ACCOUNTING REVIEW Vol. 79, No. 1 2004 pp. 125–149 Analysts’ Forecasts and
Brokerage-Firm Trading
Paul J. Irvine Emory University University of Georgia
Collectively, these results suggest that analysts can generate higher trading commissions through their positive stock recommendations than by biasing their forecasts.

WHISPERS OF MERGERS SET OFF BOUTS OF SUSPICIOUS TRADING...
August 27, 2006 NYTimes By GRETCHEN MORGENSONThe boom in corporate mergers is creating concern that illicit trading ahead of deal announcements is becoming a systemic problem.

12-21-06) Stocks drop still only modestly relative to reality with suckers bear market rally still intact as the wall street fraud continues to suck the suckers in; ie., as the Dow Jones industrial average fell 42.62, S&P fell 5.22 ,and NASDAQ fell 11.76 , all very commissionable on heavy volume, as in final pre-election result push for bush, which fell very short. Highest increase (2%) in 30 years for the wholesale price index, and as well, the core ppi (1.3%), GDP growth less than expected at 2%, dollar sharply lower, oil prices up, building permits down, all unexpectedly bad but great news in the fraudulent alice-in-wonderland lunatic world of wall street. New Record Quarterly Trade Deficit initially spurred lunatic market rally along with obfuscating but very commissionable merger activity. Core inflation a very unexpected unchanged .....riiiiight!.....spurs superstitious, devoid of reality, santa rally.  Investment Banks Post Record 2006 Profit .....daaaaah! Churning and earning on worthless paper, where is that commission dollar coming from even as america has ceded solvency/leadership in every economic measure. Even at the lofty record numbers the indices are worth roughly half their value based on precipitous fall of the dollar in only 5 years with further downside to go. Superstitious ‘Santa Claus rally’.....riiiiight! High oil price rally.....riiiiight!  Total  bulls**t ! Retail sales up a very unexpected 1%, riiiiight, at the same time inventories of such goods rising substantially (do you think they’re booking sales to ‘straw men/companies’.....I do!) and oil inventories down. Fake employment numbers (from the government.....riiiiight!) the impetus for previous b.s. rally despite falling sentiment and uptick in unemployment. The ism services index (financed by unsustainable deficit/debt spending and pushing/commissioning worthless paper) and jawboning/bulls**t from the housing industry (the end is near.....riiiiight!), obfuscating mergers continued to cloud the picture, closely-watched core-PCE deflator had risen a more than expected 0.2%, second sub-50 reading on manufacturing activity in as many sessions-the November ISM index unexpectedly fell to 49.5 (consensus 52.0), Chicago PMI fell to its lowest level (49.9%) in October, and below the 50 level, indicating contraction, crude prices up  (OIL PRICES RISE ABOVE $63 A BARREL...), DOLLAR RESUMES SLIDE, Fed Chairman Bernanke & Co. cheerleading/jawboning/bulls**t, 3.2% decline in new home sales, oil inventories down and oil prices up, oil producers shun the dollar, Russia and Opec shift revenues into euros, yen and sterling..., all very bad news anywhere but in the fraudulent alice-in-wonderland world of wall street. Durable goods orders fell sharply, sentiment down, but supposedly used home sales rose slightly (riiiiight.....who says; the realtors/government who have been talking up this bubble market?) albeit at sharply lower prices. DOLLAR PLUNGES TO NEAR 15-YEAR LOW  In other words, no good news to justify the ridiculous up move by the alice-in-wonderland frauds of wall street. Worthless dollar, triple deficits, stock/options scandals/corruption, as some speculate that fed is behind purchases/manipulation (through proxy) of worthless american paper now being shunned by more rational market players abroad.  MARKETS ROCKED BY LONG OVERDUE BUT STILL MODEST RELATIVE TO REALITY SHARP SLIDE IN DOLLAR...There has never been a time since 1929 when stock prices and p/e ratios were so irrationally high for this point in a bull cycle in this indisputable secular bear market, particularly with the existing unprecedented structural economic problems, ie., trade and budget deficits, worthless dollar, scandals, fraud, corruption , etc.. In fact, unemployment unexpectedly rose substantially and consumer sentiment unexpectedly but similarly realistically fell, both very negative exept in the  fraudulent alice-in-wonderland world of wall street. Indeed, the housing bubble bursting with ie., unexpected 14% decline in starts/permits, etc., led to rally in the fraudulent alice-in-wonderland world of wall street. Obfuscating mergers help preclude detection of this massive and pervasive fraud which defies analysis owing to these mergers. New talking pointing: dell numbers exceed expectations depending upon ongoing government scrutiny of their accounting practices.....riiiiight! More contrived manipulated markets and data well as that previous unexpected rise in that global hub of manufacturing activity, New York (worthless paper is their real product, etc.) …..riiiiight!….. underpins fraudulent up move. Reassuring Fed speak, also known as b**l s**t, along with IPO’s (get the suckers in at the highs as in late 90’s market bubble), and shrugging off pervasive stock/options fraud as at, ie., KB Homes, etc., leave stocks ridiculously higher. Nations leaving the worthless dollar in droves for currencies backed by value and for precious metals. Based on the self-interested statement of typical fraud american and fed rep, we hear once again the wishful thought that housing has bottomed.....right! [Reality/Truth: US housing slump deepens, spreads]. Home depot rallies despite lower than expected results and lower guidance for the year.....right! Who is stupid enough to believe anything the fraudulent criminal americans say. They are printing worthless dollars like mad. Consumer sentiment actually previously fell and there was nothing but wall street lunacy to prop the fraudulent market. The republicans who lockstepped with war criminal dumbya bush deserved to lose. The frauds on wall street now looking for the new corporate welfare program for which to sell the sizzle ie., stem cells, etc.. The know-nothing pundits are now saying the up move without any rational basis is predicated upon the the falsity that gridlock in washington is welcomed and good because no regulation of, ie., fraud on wall street, etc., can be passed. How about a tax on stock trades to come directly from the traders' (traitors/frauds) bottom lines and provide a disincentive for the churn-and-earn fraud which is tantamount to a wasteful tax on the economy. Even token Christian paulison from jew fraud wall street couldn't stem the tide against the blatent zionist/neocon/bush co failure accross the board as the wall street frauds show record profits financed, albeit indirectly, by huge deficits, both trade and budget. Obfuscating mergers blur the picture to provide cover for up move talking points in defiance of reality.  Stagflation and full employment revisions pre-election.....riiiiight. Productivity comes in at a less than expected 0 (inflationary). The only surprise should have been that the number wasn't negative. The pundits are now saying that the market/wall street fraud is in a state of denial regarding economic fundamentals and that the market is substantially overbought, overvalued, overfrauded, over, etc., the manufacturing index coming in lower than expectations. Consumer sentiment unexpectedly fell.....daaaaah. Pre-election core inflation rate report good …..riiiiight…..but savings rate still negative and walmart sales/profits/outlook substantially below expectations but what the heck, they’re wallstreet lunatics/frauds and reality is no problem. Despite pre-election deficit spending, GNP comes in a less than expected paltry 1.6% increase with worthless falling dollar the catch-22 precluding reality avoidance and the worst yet to come. More nations leaving the worthless dollar as reserve currency even as frauds on wall street reach new highs (What are they smoking? Coking? or like the dollar just cracking) based on corporate welfare flows with money the nation doesn't have pre-election (record deficits). Housing prices continue their sharp decline as bubble deflates. GM only lost 115 million. Ford lost 5.8 billion and must restate earnings back to year 2000 is a bullish sign in the fraudulent alice-in-wonderland lunatic world of wall street. Typical pre-fed meeting rally to provide a cushion for any negative pronouncements which reality would require but are seldom forthcoming by the accommodative frauds who have similarly embraced unreality. Indeed, the gutless wimps of wall street think they're "tough" when they fraudulently take the market higher despite a clearly contrary fact based reality. Caterpillar relates the pervasive reality and the frauds on wallstreet intimidate same with sell off, ignoring pervasive options scandal/fraud and rallies Merck despite lower than expectation results.....riiiiight! Election year corporate welfare to prime the pump and the mock stock market with money the nation doesn’t have (increasing already huge deficits). CPI figures (upon which government inflation adjusted payment obligations are based) lower than expected…..riiiiight! Intel earnings/revenues down sharply but according to the lunatic frauds on wall street, beat expectations and stock rallies along with yahoo which as in the pre-dot com bust days says better days are a coming….. riiiiight Core inflation rate which is closely watched by the Fed exceeds all expectations. Fraud Merrill Lynch has really been pushing and commissioning that worthless paper and reports record earnings, despite having produced nothing and for very little if any value added (that ill-gotten money has to come from somewhere-your pockets?). The big economic report awaiting scrutiny was the monthly trade deficit which was expected to narrow but in fact INCREASED to 69.9 billion. The alice-in-wonderland lunatic wall street frauds rallied on the news as the dollar precipitously fell. The Fed Chairman said there is a "substantial correction" in housing, which will probably shave about 1% off growth in the second half of the year. The Institute of Supply Management said its services index fell to 52.9 in September -- the lowest level since April 2003. Great News….. riiiiight!..... Consumer Confidence Higher Than Expected... riiiiight!..... and housing starts were down sharply but not-as-bad-as-expectations game in play US Existing Home Sales Fall 0.5% in August; Sales Price Drops Existing-home prices fall for 1st time in 11 years along with fed jaw-boning pre-election that inflation has been licked .....riiiiight …..despite printing worthless dollars like they’re going out of style because they really are! Fed did nothing and stocks rallied, pre-election.....riiiiight! What about the reality of u.s. debt service at a record unsustainable $2 billion per day on a revolving $2 trillion charge account with ie., China, etc.. The fact that foreclosures are up and that there is projected new trade deficit record, fake government inflation numbers for election year purposes, housing starts down 6% means little to the alice-in-wonderland lunatic frauds of wall street and the so-called pundits including yahoo below. Almost all computerized volume is and must be considered heavy, manipulated, economically wasteful volume [stocks move contrary to rational analytical facts (ie., exceeded lowered expectations, things so bad interest rates can’t rise, exceeded expectations, no earnings but outlook extraordinary, the fed says booo as they print more worthless dollars to finance deficits, etc. ) is money in the bank for the frauds on wall street when they unwind said irrational positions ]. Philadelphia Federal Reserve announces that its broadest measure of manufacturing activity fell to a negative reading for the first time since April 2003, leading economic indicators fall .2%, and previously fell .1% though expected to show an increase, and in addition to the larger than expected 4.1% drop in July existing home sales to its lowest level in over two years and lifted inventories to record levels , new home sales fell 4.3%, and a larger than expected 2.4% decline in July durable orders which are negatives anywhere but in the alice-in-wonderland lunatic world of wall street where same is greeted as good news as also follows with b**l s**t from Yahoo (which didn’t even reference the record unanticipated trade gap):

Red Hat 3Q Profit Drops but Beats Views

AP - Stock-compensation expenses cut into profits for the second consecutive quarter for Red Hat Inc., but the company again exceeded analysts' expectations.

Caremark Shareholders Fight CVS Deal AP
Toyota Announces 2007 Production Target
AP
Pfizer's McKinnell to Get $180M Package
AP
Dow Ends Down 43 on Manufacturing News
AP

Not surprisingly following the market's run-up of late, renewed concerns of weakness in areas that were thought to be stabilizing exacerbated worries about the pace of economic growth, prompting investors to take some more money off the table. Out of the gate, stocks were showing their resilience to more evidence of a slowing U.S. economy. Before the bell, the Commerce Dept. showed at 8:30 ET that the U.S. economy grew at a slower pace (2.0%) than previously estimated (2.2%), marking the weakest quarter since Q4 of last year when the economy expanded at a 1.8% annual rate. Fortunately for the bulls, the dated nature of the report and the forward-thinking of the market have so far left investors more interested in the current pace of economic growth and a focus on forecasts for 2007. However, with the Dow, S&P 500 and Nasdaq running virtually uncontested over the last five months, posting respective gains of 6.7%, 6.5%, and 7.5% in Q4 so far, investors were already exhibiting a cautious tone midday ahead of a potentially market-moving piece of economic data. Then, as traders worked their way through the New York lunch hour, the Philadelphia Federal Reserve reported the biggest drop (-4.3%) in manufacturing activity in more than three years. That was the third negative reading in four months. Since the report joins the industrial heavy Chicago PMI and the national ISM index at contractionary sub-50 levels in November, economically-sensitive stocks like Alcoa (AA 29.26 -0.78) got hit hard. As today's worst performing Dow component, Alcoa's 2.6% decline contributed to the Materials sector pacing the way lower among the eight sectors losing ground. Richmond Fed President Lacker saying that housing weakness will continue to be a drag on economic growth in first half of 2007, which runs counter to a growing belief that housing sales seem to be bottoming, also weighed on sentiment. A more influential area of weakness, though, was Technology. PMC-Sierra (PMCS 6.60 -0.29) cutting its Q4 sales targets renewed concerns about growth prospects within the influential semiconductor space. Jabil Circuit (JBL 24.18 -2.38) plunging 9% after also issuing downside revenue guidance last night added insult to injury to the tech sector, leaving Electronic Manufacturing Services (-4.2%) as the day's worst performing S&P industry group. On a positive note, oil prices plunged 1.7% and closed near session lows, which bodes well for consumers especially in the midst of the holiday-shopping season. However, subsequent consolidation throughout the profit engine that is the Energy sector raised concerns about its earnings potential heading into the New Year. Crude for February delivery finished at $62.66/bbl amid speculation mild weather forecasts will diminish demand for heating oil. Telecom was among the only bright spots, as the pending AT&T (T 35.22 +0.27) and BellSouth (BLS 46.28 +0.73) merger came closer to winning approval; but as one of the least influential among the 10 S&P 500 sectors, its 0.6% advance had little impact on the broader market. Consumer Staples was the only other sector to finish in the green, getting a lift following better than expected earnings. Upside surprises came from the likes of ConAgra (CAG 27.38 +0.53) and General Mills (GIS 59.07 +1.08), both of which closed at new 52-week highs. DJ30 -42.62 NASDAQ -11.76 SP500 -5.22 NASDAQ Dec/Adv/Vol 1700/1346/1.75 bln NYSE Dec/Adv/Vol 1967/1336/1.28 bln

The current-account trade deficit increased 3.9 percent to an all-time high of $225.6 billion in the July-September quarter, the Commerce Department reported Monday. That third-quarter deficit was equal to 6.8 percent of the total economy, up from 6.6 percent of gross domestic product in the second quarter. The current account is the broadest measure of trade because it tracks not only the flow of goods and services across borders but also investment flows. It represents the amount of money that must be borrowed from foreigners to make up the difference between imports and exports. At current levels, the United States is borrowing more than $2 billion a day from foreigners to finance the trade deficit.

U.S. HOUSING SLUMP DEEPENS, SPREADS
BARRIE MCKENNA Washington — First, Americans quit buying homes. Now, they may have stopped fixing and furnishing them too. Home Depot Inc. reported a 3-per-cent drop in profit in the three months that ended in October, amid mounting evidence that the U.S. housing slump is getting worse. “I don't think we've seen the bottom yet, and I don't see anything that says it's going to get significantly better in 2007,” said Bob Nardelli, Home Depot's chairman and chief executive officer. Mr. Nardelli said job losses in the home construction market are the worst he's seen in 35 years, and the pain is starting to spread to the home renovation market. “The loss of jobs ... in the home construction market is at unprecedented levels,” Mr. Nardelli told analysts on a conference call Tuesday. “Home builders [are] basically writing off earnest money and liquidating land. We're starting to see a lot of that unemployment find its way over to the small repair and remodel contractors.” Problems in the housing sector have also begun to affect how consumers spend their money. In October, U.S. retail sales fell at an annual rate of 0.2 per cent — the third consecutive monthly decline, according to a U.S. Commerce Department report Tuesday. The decline was heavily influenced by lower gasoline prices, which resulted in less revenue for gas stations. But there were also sharp declines in building materials (down 0.3 per cent), furniture (down 0.7 per cent) and department store sales (down 0.7 per cent). Over the past three months, sales of building materials have plunged at an annual rate of 10.6 per cent. “The housing slowdown left its grimy fingerprints all over this report,” BMO Nesbitt Burns economist Douglas Porter said in a note to clients. Lower gasoline prices don't seem to be causing consumers to spend elsewhere, as many economists had predicted. Even if you strip out volatile gas, food and auto sales, all other retail sales rose a meagre 0.1 per cent October. “People are being very cautious,” said Ian Shepherdson, chief North American economist at High Frequency Economics. “The housing crunch is now hurting.” At least two other bellwether U.S. retailers — Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Target Corp. — reported Tuesday that their sales and profit remain strong, in spite of the problems in the housing sector. But executives at Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, acknowledged that sales in the third quarter were disappointing and it is already vowing its biggest-ever discounting binge on items such as toys and electronics to keep cash registers ringing this Christmas. “This season, no one will doubt Wal-Mart's leadership on price and value,” Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott said. Wal-Mart's profit rose to $2.65-billion (U.S.) or 63 cents a share in the third quarter that ended Oct. 31, up from $2.37-billion or 57 cents a year earlier. That was slightly below what analysts had expected, according to Reuters. Sales were up 12 per cent to $83.5-billion. But those figures include sales at newly opened stores and foreign stores. Sales at U.S. stores that have been open at least a year were up just 1.5 per cent, and Mr. Scott said fourth-quarter sales would rise just 1 to 2 per cent.

There is nothing to rationally justify the previous up move or mixed results in the market other than what is tantamount to a negative, and based upon spurious data from the government; ie., fake government numbers said total PPI rose a smaller than expected 0.1% (consensus 0.4%) in July, which was well below the 0.5% jump in June, while the more closely watched core rate (ex-food and energy) unexpectedly (RIIIIIGHT!) fell 0.3% (consensus +0.2%) -- the first decline since October and the largest drop since a 0.5% decline in April 2003. Home Sales Decline in 28 States, D.C.. Real estate prices down/stagnant. But housing stocks…..up.....riiiiight!.....in the fraudulent "alice-in-wonderland" lunatic world of wall street where down is up and up is down.  Martin Crutsinger, AP Economics Writer, previously wrote,” U.S. Trade Deficit Falls 0.3 Percent in June to $64.8B, Offsetting Jump in Chinese Imports. Dell Recall Stems From sony Production Flaw  WASHINGTON (AP) -- America's trade deficit showed a slight improvement as strong global growth pushed U.S. exports to a record level. That helped offset a surge in Chinese imports and record crude oil prices. The deficit declined 0.3 percent in June, compared with May, dropping to $64.8 billion, still the fifth largest imbalance on record, the Commerce Department reported Thursday. The deficit is running at an annual rate of $768 billion through the first six months of this year, putting the country on track to see a fifth straight record imbalance. Last year's deficit was $716.7 billion. Prior considerations remain apposite in this clearly overvalued market. The frauds on wall street feel compelled to continue their tradition/superstition/fraud tactic of buying on the rumor and selling on the news (fact) of the Fed’s temporary pause in rate hikes. You see, the facts/news do not rationally warrant holding dollar based securities/stocks but provide a means to scam the stupid money, to the benefit of the wall street frauds/scammers and smart money.  Yahoo previously commented: Friday was a wild day on Wall Street with early gains fueled by an encouraging July jobs report being wiped away as the return of concern tied to an economic slowdown outweighed the potential of a pause in tightening at Tuesday's Fed meeting. Before the bell, nonfarm payrolls rose a less than expected 113,000 and the unemployment rate rose for the first time since November, suggesting the labor market is losing steam and reinforcing the view that the economy is on track for a soft landing. To wit, fed funds futures were pricing in a 44% chance....., to which I responded, Wild..... I’ll give you wild: GM says their quarterly loss was $3.4 billion and not 3.2 billion as reported; Ford says their loss was $200 million dollars more than they previously reported and will now join gm in worker buyouts; but both GM and Ford will now offer built-in ipods which should substantially help their core business of building cars; meanwhile, options/accounting scandal/subterfuge occurring at the apple ipod (anything but computers) company. Analyst says GM good news now behind it (past/discounted), yet stock still rose upon said analysis …..riiiiight….. daaaaah! Apple Computer Inc. warned Thursday that it may have to revise its profits dating back to 2002 in a worsening stock option scandal, maybe even suspension, that has cast a harsh light on Silicon Valley's compensation practices. Don’t forget that GDP growth slowed substantially and below expectations at 2.5% which in the alice-in-wonderland lunatic world of wall street is of course good news. Stagflation? The fact is that no rational investor would choose dollar based stocks/securities when they could get less risky/liquid (approx.) 5% yielding cds, money market instruments, short-term treasuries/funds, etc.. However it’s not rational investors that are racking up commission dollars trading in and out of stocks like termites eating away at the huge capital funds which they control. Nothing constituting real value would account for the fraudulent rally mode this and other days. Highly leveraged obfuscating mergers/acquisitions, also very commissionable (investment bankers/brokers), and historically have more often than not ended quite badly; oil prices now above $63; yes, as in the last crash, they will get fooled again’ as stocks up sharply in the fraudulent alice-in-wonderland lunatic world of wall street where down is up and up is down. The stock market has never been so backward-looking. Indeed, amazingly, the pundits/analysts are even talking SEASONAL considerations in their fraud in the inducement which is the height of absurdity (such things are discounted well in advance in a rational market). The once objective, fact-oriented Barrons publication has now become a shill for the continuing fraud on wall street. Bush no conservative says Buckley (who also says that in Europe bush’s failed war policies would have required his expected resignation).....daaaaah!; neither are the hillbillies clintons and papa hillbilly bush. CNN's DOBBS BLASTS U.S. ISRAEL POLICY... BUCHANAN: 'Israel policy violates international law, is un-American and un-Christian'... The government is also catching on and playing the “better than expectations” game with the still very substantial deficit numbers, clouded by the use of social security funds used in the general fund rather than allocated for the defacto bankrupt social security system where they belong. ! Remember, leading economic indicators are down .6 percent continuing an ignored (by wall street frauds) downward trend/weakness extending back to the summer, 2005. Options scandal as was inherent in the (fraudulent) dotcom bust is extent and under way in nasdaq particularly. Spotlight on the Stock Option Scandal-The share prices of companies involved in stock options backdating have held up well compared to the broader market. But shareholders might be in for a rougher ride. Plus, why the Nasdaq has its hands full. I previously warned be very skeptical of up-coming government/corporate/collaborative/wall street data inasmuch as they are quite desperate and have proven [ie., illegal Iraq war/occupation, 911 attack(for the neocon contrived pearl harbor effect)/who ordered NORAD to stand down?/who were the pre911(within days) short-sellers?/ and the twin towers implosion, the missile that hit the pentagon precisely in the area that housed the army investigators who announced days before the opening of an investigation into a substantial pentagon fraud, etc.] that the truth is no obstacle when falsity is expedient and the lunatic frauds on wall street will try to tell you what’s up is down and what’s down is up. Lou Dobbs gets paid a lot of money to keep track of such things and doubts the verity of the government numbers. He is riiiiight! The catch-22 is that the defacto bankrupt u.s. is printing worthless paper (so much so that they’ve stopped reporting M3) and borrowing beyond sustainability, which is hyperinflationary despite false government numbers (ie., core inflation number to fraudulently decrease yield to ibond holders, etc.). Higher interest rates to prop worthless dollar and finance deficits inevitable despite wishin', hopin', and lyin’ to the contrary; foreclosures up, housing down, default notices up 67% (particularly in california, ie., orange, la, ventura, counties etc.) nationwide. Don’t forget: the equity in housing has been stripped out of real estate by way of the refinancing boom, which artificially stimulated the economic numbers while ultimately leaving buyers with debt exceeding actual property values. There is substantial downside bias in light of real economic considerations, particularly beyond the moment/trading day given that this bull (s**t) cycle in this indisputable secular bear market is over. Remember: more contrived wasteful commissions to the wall street frauds, the level and percentage of which should be examined in light of computerization and decreased costs attendant to same especially since only A Small Fraction Of What wall street Does Is A Net Positive For The Economy (New Investment Capital), The Rest Is Tantamount To A (Economically) "Wasteful Tax" (On The Economy) via 'churn and earn' computerized programmed trades.

US '.....going bankrupt'
By Edmund Conway, Economics Editor (Filed: 14/07/2006)

The United States is heading for bankruptcy, according to an extraordinary paper published by one of the key members of the country's central bank.

A ballooning budget deficit and a pensions and welfare timebomb could send the economic superpower into insolvency, according to research by Professor Laurence Kotlikoff for the Federal Reserve Bank of St Louis, a leading constituent of the US Federal Reserve.

Prof Kotlikoff said that, by some measures, the US is already bankrupt. "To paraphrase the Oxford English Dictionary, is the United States at the end of its resources, exhausted, stripped bare, destitute, bereft, wanting in property, or wrecked in consequence of failure to pay its creditors," he asked.

According to his central analysis, "the US government is, indeed, bankrupt, insofar as it will be unable to pay its creditors, who, in this context, are current and future generations to whom it has explicitly or implicitly promised future net payments of various kinds''.

The budget deficit in the US is not massive. The Bush administration this week cut its forecasts for the fiscal shortfall this year by almost a third, saying it will come in at 2.3pc of gross domestic product. This is smaller than most European countries - including the UK - which have deficits north of 3pc of GDP.

Prof Kotlikoff, who teaches at Boston University, says: "The proper way to consider a country's solvency is to examine the lifetime fiscal burdens facing current and future generations. If these burdens exceed the resources of those generations, get close to doing so, or simply get so high as to preclude their full collection, the country's policy will be unsustainable and can constitute or lead to national bankruptcy.

"Does the United States fit this bill? No one knows for sure, but there are strong reasons to believe the United States may be going broke."

Experts have calculated that the country's long-term "fiscal gap" between all future government spending and all future receipts will widen immensely as the Baby Boomer generation retires, and as the amount the state will have to spend on healthcare and pensions soars. The total fiscal gap could be an almost incomprehensible $65.9 trillion, according to a study by Professors Gokhale and Smetters.

The figure is massive because President George W Bush has made major tax cuts in recent years, and because the bill for Medicare, which provides health insurance for the elderly, and Medicaid, which does likewise for the poor, will increase greatly due to demographics.

Prof Kotlikoff said: "This figure is more than five times US GDP and almost twice the size of national wealth. One way to wrap one's head around $65.9trillion is to ask what fiscal adjustments are needed to eliminate this red hole. The answers are terrifying. One solution is an immediate and permanent doubling of personal and corporate income taxes. Another is an immediate and permanent two-thirds cut in Social Security and Medicare benefits. A third alternative, were it feasible, would be to immediately and permanently cut all federal discretionary spending by 143pc."

The scenario has serious implications for the dollar. If investors lose confidence in the US's future, and suspect the country may at some point allow inflation to erode away its debts, they may reduce their holdings of US Treasury bonds.

Prof Kotlikoff said: "The United States has experienced high rates of inflation in the past and appears to be running the same type of fiscal policies that engendered hyperinflations in 20 countries over the past century."

UPDATE - Two former NYSE traders found guilty of fraud

Stock market staggers, but investors still may be too optimistic

Commentary: Newsletters react to stock markets' losing week
By Peter Brimelow, MarketWatch  12:04 AM ET Jul 17, 2006
Investors may still be too optimistic
NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- First, a proprietary word: on Friday night, the Hulbert Stock Newsletter Sentiment Index (HSNSI), which reflects the average recommended stock market exposure among a subset of short-term market timing newsletters tracked by the Hulbert Financial Digest, stood at plus-23.8%. This was certainly below the 31.4% it showed on Tuesday night, when Mark Hulbert worried, presciently we must say, that it was too strong from a contrary opinion point of view. But it's still above its 12.6% reading at end of June, although, Mark pointed out, the stock market had declined in the interim. And since Mark wrote, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has had three triple-digit down days.

Not good.

Dow Theory Letters' Richard Russell wrote Friday morning: "If the Dow breaks support at 10,760, I think we could have some nasty action, even some crash-type action." But, perhaps significantly, Russell did not quite hit the panic button when the Dow did indeed close at 10,739 Friday night.

He simply remarked, supporting the contrary opinion view: "Three days in a row with the Dow down over 100 points each day -- you don't see that very often. But still no signs of real fear, no capitulation, no panic -- just down, down, and down. The key consideration here is that there is still no sign of big money coming into this market. In fact, the big money has been leaving this market all year. ... The longer the market continues down without a panic decline, the worse the ultimate panic will be when it arrives."

What is Wrong with the Stock Market?

Dr. Khaled Batarfi

 

John D. Rockefeller was once asked why he decided to sell all his stocks just months before the 1929 Wall Street Crash. He explained: One morning, I was on the way to my office and stopped to have my shoes polished. The guy asked my advice about the shares he bought. If people with this kind of talent were now playing the market, I knew there was something wrong.....

 

U.S. Treasury balances at Fed fell on July 17Tue Jul 18, 2006

WASHINGTON, July 18 (Reuters) - U.S. Treasury balances at the Federal Reserve, based on the Treasury Department's latest budget statement (billions of dollars, except where noted):

              July 17 July 14 (respectively)

Fed acct  4.087 4.935

Tax/loan note acct 10.502 10.155

Cash balance 14.589 15.192

National debt,

subject to limit 8,311.633 8,323.084

The statutory debt limit is $8.965 trillion.

The Treasury said there were $192 million in individual tax refunds and $23 million in corporate tax refunds issued.

End Of The Bubble Bailouts A. Gary Shilling, Insight 08.29.06 - For a quarter-century, Americans’ spending binge has been fueled by a declining savings rate and increased borrowing. The savings rate of American consumers has fallen from 12% in the early 1980s to -1.7% today (see chart below). This means that, on average, consumer spending has risen about a half percentage point more than disposable, or after-tax, income per year for a quarter-century.

The fact that Americans are saving less and less of their after-tax income is only half the profligate consumer story. If someone borrows to buy a car, his savings rate declines because his outlays go up but his disposable income doesn’t. So the downward march in the personal savings rate is closely linked to the upward march in total consumer debt (mortgage, credit card, auto, etc.) in relation to disposable income (see chart below).

Robust consumer spending was fueled first by the soaring stock market of the 1990s and, more recently, by the housing bubble, as house prices departed from their normal close link to the Consumer Price Index (see chart below) and subsequently racked up huge appreciation for homeowners, who continued to save less and spend more. Thanks to accommodative lenders eager to provide refinancings and home equity loans, Americans extracted $719 billion in cash from their houses last year after a $633 billion withdrawal in 2004, according to the Federal Reserve.

But the housing bubble is deflating rapidly. I expect at least a 20% decline in median single-family house prices nationwide, and that number may be way understated. A bursting of the bubble would force many homeowners to curb their outlays in order to close the gaps between their income and spending growth. That would surely precipitate a major recession that would become global, given the dependence of most foreign countries on U.S. consumers to buy the excess goods and services for which they have no other markets.

That is, unless another source of money can bridge the gap between consumer incomes and outlays, just as house appreciation seamlessly took over when stocks nosedived. What could that big new source of money be? And would it be available soon, given the likelihood that house prices will swoon in coming quarters?

One possible source of big, although not immediate, money to sustain consumer spending is inheritance. Some estimates in the 1990s had the postwar babies, who have saved little for their retirement, inheriting between $10 trillion and $41 trillion from their parents in the coming decades. But subsequent work by AARP, using the Federal Reserve’s Survey of Consumer Finances for 2004 and previous years, slashed the total for inheritances of all people alive today to $12 trillion in 2005 dollars. Most of it, $9.2 trillion, will go to pre-boomers born before 1946, only $2.1 trillion to the postwar babies born between 1946 and 1964, and $0.7 trillion to the post-boomers.

Furthermore, the value of all previous inheritances as reported in the 2004 survey was $49,902 on average, with $70,317 for pre-boomers, $48,768 for boomers and $24,348 for post-boomers. Clearly, these are not numbers that provide for comfortable retirements and, therefore, allow people to continue to spend like drunken sailors.

What other assets could consumers borrow against or liquidate to support spending growth in the future? After all, they do have a lot of net worth, almost $54 trillion for households and nonprofit organizations as of the end of the first quarter. Nevertheless, there aren’t any other big assets left to tap. Another big stock bonanza is unlikely for decades, and the real estate bubble is deflating.

Deposits total $6.3 trillion, but the majority, $4.9 trillion worth, is in time and savings deposits, largely held for retirement by financially conservative people. Is it likely that a speculator who owns five houses has sizable time deposits to fall back on? Households and nonprofits hold $3.2 trillion in bonds and other credit market instruments, but most owned by individuals are in conservative hands. Life insurance reserves can be borrowed, but their total size, $1.1 trillion, pales in comparison to the $1.8 trillion that homeowners extracted from their houses in the 2003-2005 years. There’s $6.7 trillion of equity in noncorporate business, but the vast majority of that is needed by typically cash-poor small businesses to keep their doors open.

Pension funds might be a source of cash for consumers who want to live it up now and take the Scarlett O’Hara, “I’ll worry about that tomorrow” attitude toward retirement. They totaled $11.1 trillion in the first quarter, but that number includes public funds and private defined benefit plans that are seldom available to pre-retirees unless they leave their jobs.

The private defined contribution plans, typically 401(k)s, totaled $2.5 trillion in 2004 and have been growing rapidly because employers favor them. But sadly, many employees, especially those at lower income levels, don’t share their bosses’ zeal. Only about 70% participate in their company 401(k) plans and thereby take advantage of company contributions. Lower paid employees are especially absent from participation, with 40% of those making less than $20,000 contributing (60% of those earning $20,000 to $40,000), while 90% of employees earning $100,000 or more participate.

Furthermore, the amount that employees could net from withdrawals from defined contribution plans would be far less than the $2.5 trillion total, probably less than the $1.8 trillion they pulled out of their houses from 2003 to 2005. That $2.5 trillion total includes company contributions that are not yet vested and can’t be withdrawn. Also, withdrawals by those under 59½ years old are subject to a 10% penalty, with income taxes due on the remainder.

With soaring stock portfolios now ancient history and leaping house prices about to be, no other sources, such as inheritance or pension fund withdrawals, are likely to fill the gap between robust consumer spending and weak income growth. Consumer retrenchment and the saving spree I’ve been expecting may finally be about to commence. And the effects on consumer behavior, especially on borrowing and discretionary spending, will be broad and deep.

Analysts' Forecasts and Brokerage-Firm Trading
THE ACCOUNTING REVIEW Vol. 79, No. 1 2004 pp. 125–149 Analysts’ Forecasts and
Brokerage-Firm Trading
Paul J. Irvine Emory University University of Georgia
Collectively, these results suggest that analysts can generate higher trading commissions through their positive stock recommendations than by biasing their forecasts.

WHISPERS OF MERGERS SET OFF BOUTS OF SUSPICIOUS TRADING...
August 27, 2006 NYTimes By GRETCHEN MORGENSONThe boom in corporate mergers is creating concern that illicit trading ahead of deal announcements is becoming a systemic problem.

12-20-06) Stocks drop still only modestly relative to reality with suckers bear market rally still intact as the wall street fraud continues to suck the suckers in; ie., as the Dow Jones industrial average fell 7.45, S&P fell 2.02 ,and NASDAQ fell 1.94 , all very commissionable on heavy volume, as in final pre-election result push for bush, which fell very short. Highest increase (2%) in 30 years for the wholesale price index, and as well, the core ppi (1.3%), dollar sharply lower, oil prices up, building permits down, all unexpectedly bad but great news in the fraudulent alice-in-wonderland lunatic world of wall street. New Record Quarterly Trade Deficit initially spurred lunatic market rally along with obfuscating but very commissionable merger activity. Core inflation a very unexpected unchanged .....riiiiight!.....spurs superstitious, devoid of reality, santa rally.  Investment Banks Post Record 2006 Profit .....daaaaah! Churning and earning on worthless paper, where is that commission dollar coming from even as america has ceded solvency/leadership in every economic measure. Even at the lofty record numbers the indices are worth roughly half their value based on precipitous fall of the dollar in only 5 years with further downside to go. Superstitious ‘Santa Claus rally’.....riiiiight! High oil price rally.....riiiiight!  Total  bulls**t ! Retail sales up a very unexpected 1%, riiiiight, at the same time inventories of such goods rising substantially (do you think they’re booking sales to ‘straw men/companies’.....I do!) and oil inventories down. Fake employment numbers (from the government.....riiiiight!) the impetus for previous b.s. rally despite falling sentiment and uptick in unemployment. The ism services index (financed by unsustainable deficit/debt spending and pushing/commissioning worthless paper) and jawboning/bulls**t from the housing industry (the end is near.....riiiiight!), obfuscating mergers continued to cloud the picture, closely-watched core-PCE deflator had risen a more than expected 0.2%, second sub-50 reading on manufacturing activity in as many sessions-the November ISM index unexpectedly fell to 49.5 (consensus 52.0), Chicago PMI fell to its lowest level (49.9%) in October, and below the 50 level, indicating contraction, crude prices up  (OIL PRICES RISE ABOVE $63 A BARREL...), DOLLAR RESUMES SLIDE, Fed Chairman Bernanke & Co. cheerleading/jawboning/bulls**t, 3.2% decline in new home sales, oil inventories down and oil prices up, oil producers shun the dollar, Russia and Opec shift revenues into euros, yen and sterling..., all very bad news anywhere but in the fraudulent alice-in-wonderland world of wall street. Durable goods orders fell sharply, sentiment down, but supposedly used home sales rose slightly (riiiiight.....who says; the realtors/government who have been talking up this bubble market?) albeit at sharply lower prices. DOLLAR PLUNGES TO NEAR 15-YEAR LOW  In other words, no good news to justify the ridiculous up move by the alice-in-wonderland frauds of wall street. Worthless dollar, triple deficits, stock/options scandals/corruption, as some speculate that fed is behind purchases/manipulation (through proxy) of worthless american paper now being shunned by more rational market players abroad.  MARKETS ROCKED BY LONG OVERDUE BUT STILL MODEST RELATIVE TO REALITY SHARP SLIDE IN DOLLAR...There has never been a time since 1929 when stock prices and p/e ratios were so irrationally high for this point in a bull cycle in this indisputable secular bear market, particularly with the existing unprecedented structural economic problems, ie., trade and budget deficits, worthless dollar, scandals, fraud, corruption , etc.. In fact, unemployment unexpectedly rose substantially and consumer sentiment unexpectedly but similarly realistically fell, both very negative exept in the  fraudulent alice-in-wonderland world of wall street. Indeed, the housing bubble bursting with ie., unexpected 14% decline in starts/permits, etc., led to rally in the fraudulent alice-in-wonderland world of wall street. Obfuscating mergers help preclude detection of this massive and pervasive fraud which defies analysis owing to these mergers. New talking pointing: dell numbers exceed expectations depending upon ongoing government scrutiny of their accounting practices.....riiiiight! More contrived manipulated markets and data well as that previous unexpected rise in that global hub of manufacturing activity, New York (worthless paper is their real product, etc.) …..riiiiight!….. underpins fraudulent up move. Reassuring Fed speak, also known as b**l s**t, along with IPO’s (get the suckers in at the highs as in late 90’s market bubble), and shrugging off pervasive stock/options fraud as at, ie., KB Homes, etc., leave stocks ridiculously higher. Nations leaving the worthless dollar in droves for currencies backed by value and for precious metals. Based on the self-interested statement of typical fraud american and fed rep, we hear once again the wishful thought that housing has bottomed.....right! [Reality/Truth: US housing slump deepens, spreads]. Home depot rallies despite lower than expected results and lower guidance for the year.....right! Who is stupid enough to believe anything the fraudulent criminal americans say. They are printing worthless dollars like mad. Consumer sentiment actually previously fell and there was nothing but wall street lunacy to prop the fraudulent market. The republicans who lockstepped with war criminal dumbya bush deserved to lose. The frauds on wall street now looking for the new corporate welfare program for which to sell the sizzle ie., stem cells, etc.. The know-nothing pundits are now saying the up move without any rational basis is predicated upon the the falsity that gridlock in washington is welcomed and good because no regulation of, ie., fraud on wall street, etc., can be passed. How about a tax on stock trades to come directly from the traders' (traitors/frauds) bottom lines and provide a disincentive for the churn-and-earn fraud which is tantamount to a wasteful tax on the economy. Even token Christian paulison from jew fraud wall street couldn't stem the tide against the blatent zionist/neocon/bush co failure accross the board as the wall street frauds show record profits financed, albeit indirectly, by huge deficits, both trade and budget. Obfuscating mergers blur the picture to provide cover for up move talking points in defiance of reality.  Stagflation and full employment revisions pre-election.....riiiiight. Productivity comes in at a less than expected 0 (inflationary). The only surprise should have been that the number wasn't negative. The pundits are now saying that the market/wall street fraud is in a state of denial regarding economic fundamentals and that the market is substantially overbought, overvalued, overfrauded, over, etc., the manufacturing index coming in lower than expectations. Consumer sentiment unexpectedly fell.....daaaaah. Pre-election core inflation rate report good …..riiiiight…..but savings rate still negative and walmart sales/profits/outlook substantially below expectations but what the heck, they’re wallstreet lunatics/frauds and reality is no problem. Despite pre-election deficit spending, GNP comes in a less than expected paltry 1.6% increase with worthless falling dollar the catch-22 precluding reality avoidance and the worst yet to come. More nations leaving the worthless dollar as reserve currency even as frauds on wall street reach new highs (What are they smoking? Coking? or like the dollar just cracking) based on corporate welfare flows with money the nation doesn't have pre-election (record deficits). Housing prices continue their sharp decline as bubble deflates. GM only lost 115 million. Ford lost 5.8 billion and must restate earnings back to year 2000 is a bullish sign in the fraudulent alice-in-wonderland lunatic world of wall street. Typical pre-fed meeting rally to provide a cushion for any negative pronouncements which reality would require but are seldom forthcoming by the accommodative frauds who have similarly embraced unreality. Indeed, the gutless wimps of wall street think they're "tough" when they fraudulently take the market higher despite a clearly contrary fact based reality. Caterpillar relates the pervasive reality and the frauds on wallstreet intimidate same with sell off, ignoring pervasive options scandal/fraud and rallies Merck despite lower than expectation results.....riiiiight! Election year corporate welfare to prime the pump and the mock stock market with money the nation doesn’t have (increasing already huge deficits). CPI figures (upon which government inflation adjusted payment obligations are based) lower than expected…..riiiiight! Intel earnings/revenues down sharply but according to the lunatic frauds on wall street, beat expectations and stock rallies along with yahoo which as in the pre-dot com bust days says better days are a coming….. riiiiight Core inflation rate which is closely watched by the Fed exceeds all expectations. Fraud Merrill Lynch has really been pushing and commissioning that worthless paper and reports record earnings, despite having produced nothing and for very little if any value added (that ill-gotten money has to come from somewhere-your pockets?). The big economic report awaiting scrutiny was the monthly trade deficit which was expected to narrow but in fact INCREASED to 69.9 billion. The alice-in-wonderland lunatic wall street frauds rallied on the news as the dollar precipitously fell. The Fed Chairman said there is a "substantial correction" in housing, which will probably shave about 1% off growth in the second half of the year. The Institute of Supply Management said its services index fell to 52.9 in September -- the lowest level since April 2003. Great News….. riiiiight!..... Consumer Confidence Higher Than Expected... riiiiight!..... and housing starts were down sharply but not-as-bad-as-expectations game in play US Existing Home Sales Fall 0.5% in August; Sales Price Drops Existing-home prices fall for 1st time in 11 years along with fed jaw-boning pre-election that inflation has been licked .....riiiiight …..despite printing worthless dollars like they’re going out of style because they really are! Fed did nothing and stocks rallied, pre-election.....riiiiight! What about the reality of u.s. debt service at a record unsustainable $2 billion per day on a revolving $2 trillion charge account with ie., China, etc.. The fact that foreclosures are up and that there is projected new trade deficit record, fake government inflation numbers for election year purposes, housing starts down 6% means little to the alice-in-wonderland lunatic frauds of wall street and the so-called pundits including yahoo below. Almost all computerized volume is and must be considered heavy, manipulated, economically wasteful volume [stocks move contrary to rational analytical facts (ie., exceeded lowered expectations, things so bad interest rates can’t rise, exceeded expectations, no earnings but outlook extraordinary, the fed says booo as they print more worthless dollars to finance deficits, etc. ) is money in the bank for the frauds on wall street when they unwind said irrational positions ]. Philadelphia Federal Reserve announces that its broadest measure of manufacturing activity fell to a negative reading for the first time since April 2003, leading economic indicators fall .2%, and previously fell .1% though expected to show an increase, and in addition to the larger than expected 4.1% drop in July existing home sales to its lowest level in over two years and lifted inventories to record levels , new home sales fell 4.3%, and a larger than expected 2.4% decline in July durable orders which are negatives anywhere but in the alice-in-wonderland lunatic world of wall street where same is greeted as good news as also follows with b**l s**t from Yahoo (which didn’t even reference the record unanticipated trade gap):

Nike 2nd-Quarter Profit Climbs 8 Percent
AP - A tax break from the Dutch, surging demand in China and the enduring popularity of another shoe brand now owned by Nike Inc. all helped the world's largest athletic shoe and clothing company boost profit in its second quarter.

Delta Creditors Weighing Options AP
FedEx 3Q Outlook Overshadows 2Q Earnings
AP
Dow Down 7 on Lackluster FedEx Forecast
AP
Goldman CEO's $53.4M Bonus Breaks Record
AP

Stocks stumbled out of the gate and closed in similar fashion as investors found little in the way of specific market-moving news items to maintain even the smallest of market gains. With the Dow closing at another new record high yesterday and hitting an all-time intraday high today, investors exhibited a sense of caution in the face of higher oil prices and mixed earnings news.Although not a Dow component, a barometer of the economy that is FedEx (FDX 111.85 -2.15) issuing a Q3 profit outlook below Wall Street's forecasts brought the growth prospects of some fellow blue-chip names into question. The stock opened down 3.4% and took a toll on transportation stocks, especially rival UPS (UPS 74.77 -0.98), that were already under pressure as oil prices approached $64/bbl. Crude for February delivery closed at $63.72/bbl following a much larger than expected drawdown in weekly crude supplies.The inability of Energy stocks to take notice and extend yesterday's recovery efforts removed some notable leadership in one of the largest contributors to earnings growth on the S&P 500. Energy paced the way lower among the day's seven losing sectors (-1.2%) as a 4.4% sell-off in natural gas futures (inventories are at record levels) sparked another round of profit taking.On a positive note, Ericsson (ERIC 40.58 -0.04) announcing plans to acquire Redback Networks (RBAK 25.66 +4.49) for $2.1 bln, an 18% premium to Tuesday's close, temporarily put to rest valuation concerns and the sustainability of such a strong second half performance for tech. Hewlett-Packard (HPQ 41.34 +0.91) surging 2.3% to a multi-year high, after Banc of America Securities affirmed its Buy rating on HPQ as a top pick, also provided notable sector support. That is, until fellow Dow component Intel (INTC 20.60 -0.06) relinquished all of its 1.4% intraday advance and Internet stocks (e.g. GOOG -1.2%, YHOO -3.1%) sold off into the close. DJ30 -7.45 DJTA -1.1% DJUA -0.5% DOT -0.3% NASDAQ -1.94 NQ100 -0.4% R2K +0.5% SOX +0.7% SP400 +0.1% SP500 -2.02 XOI -1.1% NASDAQ Dec/Adv/Vol 1353/1709/1.77 bln NYSE Dec/Adv/Vol 1425/1858/1.32 bln

The current-account trade deficit increased 3.9 percent to an all-time high of $225.6 billion in the July-September quarter, the Commerce Department reported Monday. That third-quarter deficit was equal to 6.8 percent of the total economy, up from 6.6 percent of gross domestic product in the second quarter. The current account is the broadest measure of trade because it tracks not only the flow of goods and services across borders but also investment flows. It represents the amount of money that must be borrowed from foreigners to make up the difference between imports and exports. At current levels, the United States is borrowing more than $2 billion a day from foreigners to finance the trade deficit.

U.S. HOUSING SLUMP DEEPENS, SPREADS
BARRIE MCKENNA Washington — First, Americans quit buying homes. Now, they may have stopped fixing and furnishing them too. Home Depot Inc. reported a 3-per-cent drop in profit in the three months that ended in October, amid mounting evidence that the U.S. housing slump is getting worse. “I don't think we've seen the bottom yet, and I don't see anything that says it's going to get significantly better in 2007,” said Bob Nardelli, Home Depot's chairman and chief executive officer. Mr. Nardelli said job losses in the home construction market are the worst he's seen in 35 years, and the pain is starting to spread to the home renovation market. “The loss of jobs ... in the home construction market is at unprecedented levels,” Mr. Nardelli told analysts on a conference call Tuesday. “Home builders [are] basically writing off earnest money and liquidating land. We're starting to see a lot of that unemployment find its way over to the small repair and remodel contractors.” Problems in the housing sector have also begun to affect how consumers spend their money. In October, U.S. retail sales fell at an annual rate of 0.2 per cent — the third consecutive monthly decline, according to a U.S. Commerce Department report Tuesday. The decline was heavily influenced by lower gasoline prices, which resulted in less revenue for gas stations. But there were also sharp declines in building materials (down 0.3 per cent), furniture (down 0.7 per cent) and department store sales (down 0.7 per cent). Over the past three months, sales of building materials have plunged at an annual rate of 10.6 per cent. “The housing slowdown left its grimy fingerprints all over this report,” BMO Nesbitt Burns economist Douglas Porter said in a note to clients. Lower gasoline prices don't seem to be causing consumers to spend elsewhere, as many economists had predicted. Even if you strip out volatile gas, food and auto sales, all other retail sales rose a meagre 0.1 per cent October. “People are being very cautious,” said Ian Shepherdson, chief North American economist at High Frequency Economics. “The housing crunch is now hurting.” At least two other bellwether U.S. retailers — Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Target Corp. — reported Tuesday that their sales and profit remain strong, in spite of the problems in the housing sector. But executives at Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, acknowledged that sales in the third quarter were disappointing and it is already vowing its biggest-ever discounting binge on items such as toys and electronics to keep cash registers ringing this Christmas. “This season, no one will doubt Wal-Mart's leadership on price and value,” Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott said. Wal-Mart's profit rose to $2.65-billion (U.S.) or 63 cents a share in the third quarter that ended Oct. 31, up from $2.37-billion or 57 cents a year earlier. That was slightly below what analysts had expected, according to Reuters. Sales were up 12 per cent to $83.5-billion. But those figures include sales at newly opened stores and foreign stores. Sales at U.S. stores that have been open at least a year were up just 1.5 per cent, and Mr. Scott said fourth-quarter sales would rise just 1 to 2 per cent.

There is nothing to rationally justify the previous up move or mixed results in the market other than what is tantamount to a negative, and based upon spurious data from the government; ie., fake government numbers said total PPI rose a smaller than expected 0.1% (consensus 0.4%) in July, which was well below the 0.5% jump in June, while the more closely watched core rate (ex-food and energy) unexpectedly (RIIIIIGHT!) fell 0.3% (consensus +0.2%) -- the first decline since October and the largest drop since a 0.5% decline in April 2003. Home Sales Decline in 28 States, D.C.. Real estate prices down/stagnant. But housing stocks…..up.....riiiiight!.....in the fraudulent "alice-in-wonderland" lunatic world of wall street where down is up and up is down.  Martin Crutsinger, AP Economics Writer, previously wrote,” U.S. Trade Deficit Falls 0.3 Percent in June to $64.8B, Offsetting Jump in Chinese Imports. Dell Recall Stems From sony Production Flaw  WASHINGTON (AP) -- America's trade deficit showed a slight improvement as strong global growth pushed U.S. exports to a record level. That helped offset a surge in Chinese imports and record crude oil prices. The deficit declined 0.3 percent in June, compared with May, dropping to $64.8 billion, still the fifth largest imbalance on record, the Commerce Department reported Thursday. The deficit is running at an annual rate of $768 billion through the first six months of this year, putting the country on track to see a fifth straight record imbalance. Last year's deficit was $716.7 billion. Prior considerations remain apposite in this clearly overvalued market. The frauds on wall street feel compelled to continue their tradition/superstition/fraud tactic of buying on the rumor and selling on the news (fact) of the Fed’s temporary pause in rate hikes. You see, the facts/news do not rationally warrant holding dollar based securities/stocks but provide a means to scam the stupid money, to the benefit of the wall street frauds/scammers and smart money.  Yahoo previously commented: Friday was a wild day on Wall Street with early gains fueled by an encouraging July jobs report being wiped away as the return of concern tied to an economic slowdown outweighed the potential of a pause in tightening at Tuesday's Fed meeting. Before the bell, nonfarm payrolls rose a less than expected 113,000 and the unemployment rate rose for the first time since November, suggesting the labor market is losing steam and reinforcing the view that the economy is on track for a soft landing. To wit, fed funds futures were pricing in a 44% chance....., to which I responded, Wild..... I’ll give you wild: GM says their quarterly loss was $3.4 billion and not 3.2 billion as reported; Ford says their loss was $200 million dollars more than they previously reported and will now join gm in worker buyouts; but both GM and Ford will now offer built-in ipods which should substantially help their core business of building cars; meanwhile, options/accounting scandal/subterfuge occurring at the apple ipod (anything but computers) company. Analyst says GM good news now behind it (past/discounted), yet stock still rose upon said analysis …..riiiiight….. daaaaah! Apple Computer Inc. warned Thursday that it may have to revise its profits dating back to 2002 in a worsening stock option scandal, maybe even suspension, that has cast a harsh light on Silicon Valley's compensation practices. Don’t forget that GDP growth slowed substantially and below expectations at 2.5% which in the alice-in-wonderland lunatic world of wall street is of course good news. Stagflation? The fact is that no rational investor would choose dollar based stocks/securities when they could get less risky/liquid (approx.) 5% yielding cds, money market instruments, short-term treasuries/funds, etc.. However it’s not rational investors that are racking up commission dollars trading in and out of stocks like termites eating away at the huge capital funds which they control. Nothing constituting real value would account for the fraudulent rally mode this and other days. Highly leveraged obfuscating mergers/acquisitions, also very commissionable (investment bankers/brokers), and historically have more often than not ended quite badly; oil prices now above $63; yes, as in the last crash, they will get fooled again’ as stocks up sharply in the fraudulent alice-in-wonderland lunatic world of wall street where down is up and up is down. The stock market has never been so backward-looking. Indeed, amazingly, the pundits/analysts are even talking SEASONAL considerations in their fraud in the inducement which is the height of absurdity (such things are discounted well in advance in a rational market). The once objective, fact-oriented Barrons publication has now become a shill for the continuing fraud on wall street. Bush no conservative says Buckley (who also says that in Europe bush’s failed war policies would have required his expected resignation).....daaaaah!; neither are the hillbillies clintons and papa hillbilly bush. CNN's DOBBS BLASTS U.S. ISRAEL POLICY... BUCHANAN: 'Israel policy violates international law, is un-American and un-Christian'... The government is also catching on and playing the “better than expectations” game with the still very substantial deficit numbers, clouded by the use of social security funds used in the general fund rather than allocated for the defacto bankrupt social security system where they belong. ! Remember, leading economic indicators are down .6 percent continuing an ignored (by wall street frauds) downward trend/weakness extending back to the summer, 2005. Options scandal as was inherent in the (fraudulent) dotcom bust is extent and under way in nasdaq particularly. Spotlight on the Stock Option Scandal-The share prices of companies involved in stock options backdating have held up well compared to the broader market. But shareholders might be in for a rougher ride. Plus, why the Nasdaq has its hands full. I previously warned be very skeptical of up-coming government/corporate/collaborative/wall street data inasmuch as they are quite desperate and have proven [ie., illegal Iraq war/occupation, 911 attack(for the neocon contrived pearl harbor effect)/who ordered NORAD to stand down?/who were the pre911(within days) short-sellers?/ and the twin towers implosion, the missile that hit the pentagon precisely in the area that housed the army investigators who announced days before the opening of an investigation into a substantial pentagon fraud, etc.] that the truth is no obstacle when falsity is expedient and the lunatic frauds on wall street will try to tell you what’s up is down and what’s down is up. Lou Dobbs gets paid a lot of money to keep track of such things and doubts the verity of the government numbers. He is riiiiight! The catch-22 is that the defacto bankrupt u.s. is printing worthless paper (so much so that they’ve stopped reporting M3) and borrowing beyond sustainability, which is hyperinflationary despite false government numbers (ie., core inflation number to fraudulently decrease yield to ibond holders, etc.). Higher interest rates to prop worthless dollar and finance deficits inevitable despite wishin', hopin', and lyin’ to the contrary; foreclosures up, housing down, default notices up 67% (particularly in california, ie., orange, la, ventura, counties etc.) nationwide. Don’t forget: the equity in housing has been stripped out of real estate by way of the refinancing boom, which artificially stimulated the economic numbers while ultimately leaving buyers with debt exceeding actual property values. There is substantial downside bias in light of real economic considerations, particularly beyond the moment/trading day given that this bull (s**t) cycle in this indisputable secular bear market is over. Remember: more contrived wasteful commissions to the wall street frauds, the level and percentage of which should be examined in light of computerization and decreased costs attendant to same especially since only A Small Fraction Of What wall street Does Is A Net Positive For The Economy (New Investment Capital), The Rest Is Tantamount To A (Economically) "Wasteful Tax" (On The Economy) via 'churn and earn' computerized programmed trades.

US '.....going bankrupt'
By Edmund Conway, Economics Editor (Filed: 14/07/2006)

The United States is heading for bankruptcy, according to an extraordinary paper published by one of the key members of the country's central bank.

A ballooning budget deficit and a pensions and welfare timebomb could send the economic superpower into insolvency, according to research by Professor Laurence Kotlikoff for the Federal Reserve Bank of St Louis, a leading constituent of the US Federal Reserve.

Prof Kotlikoff said that, by some measures, the US is already bankrupt. "To paraphrase the Oxford English Dictionary, is the United States at the end of its resources, exhausted, stripped bare, destitute, bereft, wanting in property, or wrecked in consequence of failure to pay its creditors," he asked.

According to his central analysis, "the US government is, indeed, bankrupt, insofar as it will be unable to pay its creditors, who, in this context, are current and future generations to whom it has explicitly or implicitly promised future net payments of various kinds''.

The budget deficit in the US is not massive. The Bush administration this week cut its forecasts for the fiscal shortfall this year by almost a third, saying it will come in at 2.3pc of gross domestic product. This is smaller than most European countries - including the UK - which have deficits north of 3pc of GDP.

Prof Kotlikoff, who teaches at Boston University, says: "The proper way to consider a country's solvency is to examine the lifetime fiscal burdens facing current and future generations. If these burdens exceed the resources of those generations, get close to doing so, or simply get so high as to preclude their full collection, the country's policy will be unsustainable and can constitute or lead to national bankruptcy.

"Does the United States fit this bill? No one knows for sure, but there are strong reasons to believe the United States may be going broke."

Experts have calculated that the country's long-term "fiscal gap" between all future government spending and all future receipts will widen immensely as the Baby Boomer generation retires, and as the amount the state will have to spend on healthcare and pensions soars. The total fiscal gap could be an almost incomprehensible $65.9 trillion, according to a study by Professors Gokhale and Smetters.

The figure is massive because President George W Bush has made major tax cuts in recent years, and because the bill for Medicare, which provides health insurance for the elderly, and Medicaid, which does likewise for the poor, will increase greatly due to demographics.

Prof Kotlikoff said: "This figure is more than five times US GDP and almost twice the size of national wealth. One way to wrap one's head around $65.9trillion is to ask what fiscal adjustments are needed to eliminate this red hole. The answers are terrifying. One solution is an immediate and permanent doubling of personal and corporate income taxes. Another is an immediate and permanent two-thirds cut in Social Security and Medicare benefits. A third alternative, were it feasible, would be to immediately and permanently cut all federal discretionary spending by 143pc."

The scenario has serious implications for the dollar. If investors lose confidence in the US's future, and suspect the country may at some point allow inflation to erode away its debts, they may reduce their holdings of US Treasury bonds.

Prof Kotlikoff said: "The United States has experienced high rates of inflation in the past and appears to be running the same type of fiscal policies that engendered hyperinflations in 20 countries over the past century."

UPDATE - Two former NYSE traders found guilty of fraud

Stock market staggers, but investors still may be too optimistic

Commentary: Newsletters react to stock markets' losing week
By Peter Brimelow, MarketWatch  12:04 AM ET Jul 17, 2006
Investors may still be too optimistic
NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- First, a proprietary word: on Friday night, the Hulbert Stock Newsletter Sentiment Index (HSNSI), which reflects the average recommended stock market exposure among a subset of short-term market timing newsletters tracked by the Hulbert Financial Digest, stood at plus-23.8%. This was certainly below the 31.4% it showed on Tuesday night, when Mark Hulbert worried, presciently we must say, that it was too strong from a contrary opinion point of view. But it's still above its 12.6% reading at end of June, although, Mark pointed out, the stock market had declined in the interim. And since Mark wrote, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has had three triple-digit down days.

Not good.

Dow Theory Letters' Richard Russell wrote Friday morning: "If the Dow breaks support at 10,760, I think we could have some nasty action, even some crash-type action." But, perhaps significantly, Russell did not quite hit the panic button when the Dow did indeed close at 10,739 Friday night.

He simply remarked, supporting the contrary opinion view: "Three days in a row with the Dow down over 100 points each day -- you don't see that very often. But still no signs of real fear, no capitulation, no panic -- just down, down, and down. The key consideration here is that there is still no sign of big money coming into this market. In fact, the big money has been leaving this market all year. ... The longer the market continues down without a panic decline, the worse the ultimate panic will be when it arrives."

What is Wrong with the Stock Market?

Dr. Khaled Batarfi

 

John D. Rockefeller was once asked why he decided to sell all his stocks just months before the 1929 Wall Street Crash. He explained: One morning, I was on the way to my office and stopped to have my shoes polished. The guy asked my advice about the shares he bought. If people with this kind of talent were now playing the market, I knew there was something wrong.....

 

U.S. Treasury balances at Fed fell on July 17Tue Jul 18, 2006

WASHINGTON, July 18 (Reuters) - U.S. Treasury balances at the Federal Reserve, based on the Treasury Department's latest budget statement (billions of dollars, except where noted):

              July 17 July 14 (respectively)

Fed acct  4.087 4.935

Tax/loan note acct 10.502 10.155

Cash balance 14.589 15.192

National debt,

subject to limit 8,311.633 8,323.084

The statutory debt limit is $8.965 trillion.

The Treasury said there were $192 million in individual tax refunds and $23 million in corporate tax refunds issued.

End Of The Bubble Bailouts A. Gary Shilling, Insight 08.29.06 - For a quarter-century, Americans’ spending binge has been fueled by a declining savings rate and increased borrowing. The savings rate of American consumers has fallen from 12% in the early 1980s to -1.7% today (see chart below). This means that, on average, consumer spending has risen about a half percentage point more than disposable, or after-tax, income per year for a quarter-century.

The fact that Americans are saving less and less of their after-tax income is only half the profligate consumer story. If someone borrows to buy a car, his savings rate declines because his outlays go up but his disposable income doesn’t. So the downward march in the personal savings rate is closely linked to the upward march in total consumer debt (mortgage, credit card, auto, etc.) in relation to disposable income (see chart below).

Robust consumer spending was fueled first by the soaring stock market of the 1990s and, more recently, by the housing bubble, as house prices departed from their normal close link to the Consumer Price Index (see chart below) and subsequently racked up huge appreciation for homeowners, who continued to save less and spend more. Thanks to accommodative lenders eager to provide refinancings and home equity loans, Americans extracted $719 billion in cash from their houses last year after a $633 billion withdrawal in 2004, according to the Federal Reserve.

But the housing bubble is deflating rapidly. I expect at least a 20% decline in median single-family house prices nationwide, and that number may be way understated. A bursting of the bubble would force many homeowners to curb their outlays in order to close the gaps between their income and spending growth. That would surely precipitate a major recession that would become global, given the dependence of most foreign countries on U.S. consumers to buy the excess goods and services for which they have no other markets.

That is, unless another source of money can bridge the gap between consumer incomes and outlays, just as house appreciation seamlessly took over when stocks nosedived. What could that big new source of money be? And would it be available soon, given the likelihood that house prices will swoon in coming quarters?

One possible source of big, although not immediate, money to sustain consumer spending is inheritance. Some estimates in the 1990s had the postwar babies, who have saved little for their retirement, inheriting between $10 trillion and $41 trillion from their parents in the coming decades. But subsequent work by AARP, using the Federal Reserve’s Survey of Consumer Finances for 2004 and previous years, slashed the total for inheritances of all people alive today to $12 trillion in 2005 dollars. Most of it, $9.2 trillion, will go to pre-boomers born before 1946, only $2.1 trillion to the postwar babies born between 1946 and 1964, and $0.7 trillion to the post-boomers.

Furthermore, the value of all previous inheritances as reported in the 2004 survey was $49,902 on average, with $70,317 for pre-boomers, $48,768 for boomers and $24,348 for post-boomers. Clearly, these are not numbers that provide for comfortable retirements and, therefore, allow people to continue to spend like drunken sailors.

What other assets could consumers borrow against or liquidate to support spending growth in the future? After all, they do have a lot of net worth, almost $54 trillion for households and nonprofit organizations as of the end of the first quarter. Nevertheless, there aren’t any other big assets left to tap. Another big stock bonanza is unlikely for decades, and the real estate bubble is deflating.

Deposits total $6.3 trillion, but the majority, $4.9 trillion worth, is in time and savings deposits, largely held for retirement by financially conservative people. Is it likely that a speculator who owns five houses has sizable time deposits to fall back on? Households and nonprofits hold $3.2 trillion in bonds and other credit market instruments, but most owned by individuals are in conservative hands. Life insurance reserves can be borrowed, but their total size, $1.1 trillion, pales in comparison to the $1.8 trillion that homeowners extracted from their houses in the 2003-2005 years. There’s $6.7 trillion of equity in noncorporate business, but the vast majority of that is needed by typically cash-poor small businesses to keep their doors open.

Pension funds might be a source of cash for consumers who want to live it up now and take the Scarlett O’Hara, “I’ll worry about that tomorrow” attitude toward retirement. They totaled $11.1 trillion in the first quarter, but that number includes public funds and private defined benefit plans that are seldom available to pre-retirees unless they leave their jobs.

The private defined contribution plans, typically 401(k)s, totaled $2.5 trillion in 2004 and have been growing rapidly because employers favor them. But sadly, many employees, especially those at lower income levels, don’t share their bosses’ zeal. Only about 70% participate in their company 401(k) plans and thereby take advantage of company contributions. Lower paid employees are especially absent from participation, with 40% of those making less than $20,000 contributing (60% of those earning $20,000 to $40,000), while 90% of employees earning $100,000 or more participate.

Furthermore, the amount that employees could net from withdrawals from defined contribution plans would be far less than the $2.5 trillion total, probably less than the $1.8 trillion they pulled out of their houses from 2003 to 2005. That $2.5 trillion total includes company contributions that are not yet vested and can’t be withdrawn. Also, withdrawals by those under 59½ years old are subject to a 10% penalty, with income taxes due on the remainder.

With soaring stock portfolios now ancient history and leaping house prices about to be, no other sources, such as inheritance or pension fund withdrawals, are likely to fill the gap between robust consumer spending and weak income growth. Consumer retrenchment and the saving spree I’ve been expecting may finally be about to commence. And the effects on consumer behavior, especially on borrowing and discretionary spending, will be broad and deep.

Analysts' Forecasts and Brokerage-Firm Trading
THE ACCOUNTING REVIEW Vol. 79, No. 1 2004 pp. 125–149 Analysts’ Forecasts and
Brokerage-Firm Trading
Paul J. Irvine Emory University University of Georgia
Collectively, these results suggest that analysts can generate higher trading commissions through their positive stock recommendations than by biasing their forecasts.

WHISPERS OF MERGERS SET OFF BOUTS OF SUSPICIOUS TRADING...
August 27, 2006 NYTimes By GRETCHEN MORGENSONThe boom in corporate mergers is creating concern that illicit trading ahead of deal announcements is becoming a systemic problem.

(12-19-06) Stocks drop still only modestly relative to reality with suckers bear market rally into the close to end mixed as the wall street fraud continues to suck the suckers in; ie., as the Dow Jones industrial average up 30, S&P up 3,and NASDAQ fell 6, all very commissionable on heavy volume, as in final pre-election result push for bush, which fell very short. Highest increase (2%) in 30 years for the wholesale price index, and as well, the core ppi (1.3%), dollar sharply lower, oil prices up, building permits down, all unexpectedly bad but great news in the fraudulent alice-in-wonderland lunatic world of wall street. New Record Quarterly Trade Deficit initially spurred lunatic market rally along with obfuscating but very commissionable merger activity. Core inflation a very unexpected unchanged .....riiiiight!.....spurs superstitious, devoid of reality, santa rally.  Investment Banks Post Record 2006 Profit .....daaaaah! Churning and earning on worthless paper, where is that commission dollar coming from even as america has ceded solvency/leadership in every economic measure. Even at the lofty record numbers the indices are worth roughly half their value based on precipitous fall of the dollar in only 5 years with further downside to go. Superstitious ‘Santa Claus rally’.....riiiiight! High oil price rally.....riiiiight!  Total  bulls**t ! Retail sales up a very unexpected 1%, riiiiight, at the same time inventories of such goods rising substantially (do you think they’re booking sales to ‘straw men/companies’.....I do!) and oil inventories down. Fake employment numbers (from the government.....riiiiight!) the impetus for previous b.s. rally despite falling sentiment and uptick in unemployment. The ism services index (financed by unsustainable deficit/debt spending and pushing/commissioning worthless paper) and jawboning/bulls**t from the housing industry (the end is near.....riiiiight!), obfuscating mergers continued to cloud the picture, closely-watched core-PCE deflator had risen a more than expected 0.2%, second sub-50 reading on manufacturing activity in as many sessions-the November ISM index unexpectedly fell to 49.5 (consensus 52.0), Chicago PMI fell to its lowest level (49.9%) in October, and below the 50 level, indicating contraction, crude prices up  (OIL PRICES RISE ABOVE $63 A BARREL...), DOLLAR RESUMES SLIDE, Fed Chairman Bernanke & Co. cheerleading/jawboning/bulls**t, 3.2% decline in new home sales, oil inventories down and oil prices up, oil producers shun the dollar, Russia and Opec shift revenues into euros, yen and sterling..., all very bad news anywhere but in the fraudulent alice-in-wonderland world of wall street. Durable goods orders fell sharply, sentiment down, but supposedly used home sales rose slightly (riiiiight.....who says; the realtors/government who have been talking up this bubble market?) albeit at sharply lower prices. DOLLAR PLUNGES TO NEAR 15-YEAR LOW  In other words, no good news to justify the ridiculous up move by the alice-in-wonderland frauds of wall street. Worthless dollar, triple deficits, stock/options scandals/corruption, as some speculate that fed is behind purchases/manipulation (through proxy) of worthless american paper now being shunned by more rational market players abroad.  MARKETS ROCKED BY LONG OVERDUE BUT STILL MODEST RELATIVE TO REALITY SHARP SLIDE IN DOLLAR...There has never been a time since 1929 when stock prices and p/e ratios were so irrationally high for this point in a bull cycle in this indisputable secular bear market, particularly with the existing unprecedented structural economic problems, ie., trade and budget deficits, worthless dollar, scandals, fraud, corruption , etc.. In fact, unemployment unexpectedly rose substantially and consumer sentiment unexpectedly but similarly realistically fell, both very negative exept in the  fraudulent alice-in-wonderland world of wall street. Indeed, the housing bubble bursting with ie., unexpected 14% decline in starts/permits, etc., led to rally in the fraudulent alice-in-wonderland world of wall street. Obfuscating mergers help preclude detection of this massive and pervasive fraud which defies analysis owing to these mergers. New talking pointing: dell numbers exceed expectations depending upon ongoing government scrutiny of their accounting practices.....riiiiight! More contrived manipulated markets and data well as that previous unexpected rise in that global hub of manufacturing activity, New York (worthless paper is their real product, etc.) …..riiiiight!….. underpins fraudulent up move. Reassuring Fed speak, also known as b**l s**t, along with IPO’s (get the suckers in at the highs as in late 90’s market bubble), and shrugging off pervasive stock/options fraud as at, ie., KB Homes, etc., leave stocks ridiculously higher. Nations leaving the worthless dollar in droves for currencies backed by value and for precious metals. Based on the self-interested statement of typical fraud american and fed rep, we hear once again the wishful thought that housing has bottomed.....right! [Reality/Truth: US housing slump deepens, spreads]. Home depot rallies despite lower than expected results and lower guidance for the year.....right! Who is stupid enough to believe anything the fraudulent criminal americans say. They are printing worthless dollars like mad. Consumer sentiment actually previously fell and there was nothing but wall street lunacy to prop the fraudulent market. The republicans who lockstepped with war criminal dumbya bush deserved to lose. The frauds on wall street now looking for the new corporate welfare program for which to sell the sizzle ie., stem cells, etc.. The know-nothing pundits are now saying the up move without any rational basis is predicated upon the the falsity that gridlock in washington is welcomed and good because no regulation of, ie., fraud on wall street, etc., can be passed. How about a tax on stock trades to come directly from the traders' (traitors/frauds) bottom lines and provide a disincentive for the churn-and-earn fraud which is tantamount to a wasteful tax on the economy. Even token Christian paulison from jew fraud wall street couldn't stem the tide against the blatent zionist/neocon/bush co failure accross the board as the wall street frauds show record profits financed, albeit indirectly, by huge deficits, both trade and budget. Obfuscating mergers blur the picture to provide cover for up move talking points in defiance of reality.  Stagflation and full employment revisions pre-election.....riiiiight. Productivity comes in at a less than expected 0 (inflationary). The only surprise should have been that the number wasn't negative. The pundits are now saying that the market/wall street fraud is in a state of denial regarding economic fundamentals and that the market is substantially overbought, overvalued, overfrauded, over, etc., the manufacturing index coming in lower than expectations. Consumer sentiment unexpectedly fell.....daaaaah. Pre-election core inflation rate report good …..riiiiight…..but savings rate still negative and walmart sales/profits/outlook substantially below expectations but what the heck, they’re wallstreet lunatics/frauds and reality is no problem. Despite pre-election deficit spending, GNP comes in a less than expected paltry 1.6% increase with worthless falling dollar the catch-22 precluding reality avoidance and the worst yet to come. More nations leaving the worthless dollar as reserve currency even as frauds on wall street reach new highs (What are they smoking? Coking? or like the dollar just cracking) based on corporate welfare flows with money the nation doesn't have pre-election (record deficits). Housing prices continue their sharp decline as bubble deflates. GM only lost 115 million. Ford lost 5.8 billion and must restate earnings back to year 2000 is a bullish sign in the fraudulent alice-in-wonderland lunatic world of wall street. Typical pre-fed meeting rally to provide a cushion for any negative pronouncements which reality would require but are seldom forthcoming by the accommodative frauds who have similarly embraced unreality. Indeed, the gutless wimps of wall street think they're "tough" when they fraudulently take the market higher despite a clearly contrary fact based reality. Caterpillar relates the pervasive reality and the frauds on wallstreet intimidate same with sell off, ignoring pervasive options scandal/fraud and rallies Merck despite lower than expectation results.....riiiiight! Election year corporate welfare to prime the pump and the mock stock market with money the nation doesn’t have (increasing already huge deficits). CPI figures (upon which government inflation adjusted payment obligations are based) lower than expected…..riiiiight! Intel earnings/revenues down sharply but according to the lunatic frauds on wall street, beat expectations and stock rallies along with yahoo which as in the pre-dot com bust days says better days are a coming….. riiiiight Core inflation rate which is closely watched by the Fed exceeds all expectations. Fraud Merrill Lynch has really been pushing and commissioning that worthless paper and reports record earnings, despite having produced nothing and for very little if any value added (that ill-gotten money has to come from somewhere-your pockets?). The big economic report awaiting scrutiny was the monthly trade deficit which was expected to narrow but in fact INCREASED to 69.9 billion. The alice-in-wonderland lunatic wall street frauds rallied on the news as the dollar precipitously fell. The Fed Chairman said there is a "substantial correction" in housing, which will probably shave about 1% off growth in the second half of the year. The Institute of Supply Management said its services index fell to 52.9 in September -- the lowest level since April 2003. Great News….. riiiiight!..... Consumer Confidence Higher Than Expected... riiiiight!..... and housing starts were down sharply but not-as-bad-as-expectations game in play US Existing Home Sales Fall 0.5% in August; Sales Price Drops Existing-home prices fall for 1st time in 11 years along with fed jaw-boning pre-election that inflation has been licked .....riiiiight …..despite printing worthless dollars like they’re going out of style because they really are! Fed did nothing and stocks rallied, pre-election.....riiiiight! What about the reality of u.s. debt service at a record unsustainable $2 billion per day on a revolving $2 trillion charge account with ie., China, etc.. The fact that foreclosures are up and that there is projected new trade deficit record, fake government inflation numbers for election year purposes, housing starts down 6% means little to the alice-in-wonderland lunatic frauds of wall street and the so-called pundits including yahoo below. Almost all computerized volume is and must be considered heavy, manipulated, economically wasteful volume [stocks move contrary to rational analytical facts (ie., exceeded lowered expectations, things so bad interest rates can’t rise, exceeded expectations, no earnings but outlook extraordinary, the fed says booo as they print more worthless dollars to finance deficits, etc. ) is money in the bank for the frauds on wall street when they unwind said irrational positions ]. Philadelphia Federal Reserve announces that its broadest measure of manufacturing activity fell to a negative reading for the first time since April 2003, leading economic indicators fall .2%, and previously fell .1% though expected to show an increase, and in addition to the larger than expected 4.1% drop in July existing home sales to its lowest level in over two years and lifted inventories to record levels , new home sales fell 4.3%, and a larger than expected 2.4% decline in July durable orders which are negatives anywhere but in the alice-in-wonderland lunatic world of wall street where same is greeted as good news as also follows with b**l s**t from Yahoo (which didn’t even reference the record unanticipated trade gap):

Harrah's Development Plans Questioned
Oracle 2Q Earnings Climb 21 Percent
AP - Harrah's Entertainment Inc. chief executive Gary Loveman said a $17.1 billion deal to take the world's largest casino company private was "a change in ownership, not a change in direction," but analysts predicted project development could be slowed.

Former AA Chief Don Carty Named Dell CFO AP
Palm Second-Quarter Profit Falls
AP
Dow Hits Record High on Blue Chip Gains
AP
Morgan Stanley to Spin Off Discover
AP

The major averages finished in split fashion Tuesday as investors weighed renewed momentum in the Energy sector against a rebound in oil prices, a large jump in inflation at the wholesale level and mixed news on the corporate front.Yesterday, oil prices plunged 1.9%, recording their biggest drop in a month and prompting a widespread sell-off in the Energy sector (-2.7%). That removed some notable leadership from one of the S&P 500's biggest contributors to earnings growth and contributed to the blue-chip indices' inability to build on a three-day winning streak.Today, oil prices rebounded to the tune of 1.5%, which on a typical day reminds investors of its potential to sustain inflation pressures and curb consumer spending. In fact, such concerns were evident in early trading after a 6.1% surge in energy prices last month contributed to November total PPI checking in with a surprising 2.0% increase, the biggest rise since 1974.The more closely-watched core-PPI also rose by a much higher than expected rate, climbing 1.3% (consensus 0.2%), the most since July 1980, and served as a reminder that some inflation risks remain.Be that as it may, today's rebound in black gold ignited bargain-hunting interest in everything from Explorers and Drillers to Integrated Oil and Refiners -- four of today's best performing industry groups. Thirty of 31 components in the S&P 500 Energy Index closed higher, led by a 2.1% jump in Exxon Mobil (XOM 77.06 +1.55) which was the biggest reason behind the Dow closing at a record high.Crude for January delivery, which expired today at $63.15/bbl (+$0.94), surged amid speculation tomorrow's EIA report will show a fourth straight drawdown in weekly inventories.Also helping to offset the disappointing PPI report, which upon further analysis was viewed more as a temporary spike that doesn't undermine the recent favorable trends in consumer inflation, was some encouraging Fedspeak.With investors preoccupied with the pace of economic growth, Dallas Fed President Fisher saying in a prepared speech this afternoon that he's optimistic that the economy will grow faster than "the gloomy forecasts making all the headlines lately" helped improve sentiment. The highly regarded inflation hawk also said he believes the Fed's objective of piloting the U.S. economy at a "comfortable cruising altitude and speed while preventing the engine from overheating with inflation," his interpretation of what the pundits call a "soft landing," is within reach.With concerns about the strength of the U.S. economy taking a back seat to inflation fears for the time being, economically-sensitive areas like Industrials and Discretionary eventually turned the corner to provide notable sources of market support. The latter was under pressure throughout the day after Circuit City (CC 18.99 -3.77) posted an unexpected quarterly loss and cut its fiscal year EPS outlook. That sent the stock down nearly 17% and earmarked Computer & Electronics Retail (-3.7%) as today's worst performing S&P industry group.Homebuilders were also a weak spot after Hovnanian Enterprises (HOV 34.62 -0.63) posted a larger than expected quarterly loss and following mixed housing data. Before the bell, Housing starts rose 6.7% in November to 1.59 mln, suggesting the housing market may be bottoming, but building permits fell 3% to a nine-year low. Since there are no notable Energy names listed on the Nasdaq, a tech-heavy index believed to be overbought on a short-term basis was unable to benefit from the rally in oil stocks and completely stall what was shaping up to be an even larger day of consolidation on the Composite. Oracle Corp (ORCL 17.10 -0.81) was the biggest drag on tech after posting the slowest sales growth for applications in four quarters. As a reminder, nearly 8% of the 10% year-to-date gain on the Nasdaq has been amassed in the fourth quarter. DJ30 +30.05 NASDAQ -6.02 SP500 1425.55 NASDAQ Dec/Adv/Vol 1698/1360/1.99 bln NYSE Dec/Adv/Vol 1524/1769/1.50 bln

U.S. HOUSING SLUMP DEEPENS, SPREADS
BARRIE MCKENNA Washington — First, Americans quit buying homes. Now, they may have stopped fixing and furnishing them too. Home Depot Inc. reported a 3-per-cent drop in profit in the three months that ended in October, amid mounting evidence that the U.S. housing slump is getting worse. “I don't think we've seen the bottom yet, and I don't see anything that says it's going to get significantly better in 2007,” said Bob Nardelli, Home Depot's chairman and chief executive officer. Mr. Nardelli said job losses in the home construction market are the worst he's seen in 35 years, and the pain is starting to spread to the home renovation market. “The loss of jobs ... in the home construction market is at unprecedented levels,” Mr. Nardelli told analysts on a conference call Tuesday. “Home builders [are] basically writing off earnest money and liquidating land. We're starting to see a lot of that unemployment find its way over to the small repair and remodel contractors.” Problems in the housing sector have also begun to affect how consumers spend their money. In October, U.S. retail sales fell at an annual rate of 0.2 per cent — the third consecutive monthly decline, according to a U.S. Commerce Department report Tuesday. The decline was heavily influenced by lower gasoline prices, which resulted in less revenue for gas stations. But there were also sharp declines in building materials (down 0.3 per cent), furniture (down 0.7 per cent) and department store sales (down 0.7 per cent). Over the past three months, sales of building materials have plunged at an annual rate of 10.6 per cent. “The housing slowdown left its grimy fingerprints all over this report,” BMO Nesbitt Burns economist Douglas Porter said in a note to clients. Lower gasoline prices don't seem to be causing consumers to spend elsewhere, as many economists had predicted. Even if you strip out volatile gas, food and auto sales, all other retail sales rose a meagre 0.1 per cent October. “People are being very cautious,” said Ian Shepherdson, chief North American economist at High Frequency Economics. “The housing crunch is now hurting.” At least two other bellwether U.S. retailers — Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Target Corp. — reported Tuesday that their sales and profit remain strong, in spite of the problems in the housing sector. But executives at Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, acknowledged that sales in the third quarter were disappointing and it is already vowing its biggest-ever discounting binge on items such as toys and electronics to keep cash registers ringing this Christmas. “This season, no one will doubt Wal-Mart's leadership on price and value,” Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott said. Wal-Mart's profit rose to $2.65-billion (U.S.) or 63 cents a share in the third quarter that ended Oct. 31, up from $2.37-billion or 57 cents a year earlier. That was slightly below what analysts had expected, according to Reuters. Sales were up 12 per cent to $83.5-billion. But those figures include sales at newly opened stores and foreign stores. Sales at U.S. stores that have been open at least a year were up just 1.5 per cent, and Mr. Scott said fourth-quarter sales would rise just 1 to 2 per cent.

There is nothing to rationally justify the previous up move or mixed results in the market other than what is tantamount to a negative, and based upon spurious data from the government; ie., fake government numbers said total PPI rose a smaller than expected 0.1% (consensus 0.4%) in July, which was well below the 0.5% jump in June, while the more closely watched core rate (ex-food and energy) unexpectedly (RIIIIIGHT!) fell 0.3% (consensus +0.2%) -- the first decline since October and the largest drop since a 0.5% decline in April 2003. Home Sales Decline in 28 States, D.C.. Real estate prices down/stagnant. But housing stocks…..up.....riiiiight!.....in the fraudulent "alice-in-wonderland" lunatic world of wall street where down is up and up is down.  Martin Crutsinger, AP Economics Writer, previously wrote,” U.S. Trade Deficit Falls 0.3 Percent in June to $64.8B, Offsetting Jump in Chinese Imports. Dell Recall Stems From sony Production Flaw  WASHINGTON (AP) -- America's trade deficit showed a slight improvement as strong global growth pushed U.S. exports to a record level. That helped offset a surge in Chinese imports and record crude oil prices. The deficit declined 0.3 percent in June, compared with May, dropping to $64.8 billion, still the fifth largest imbalance on record, the Commerce Department reported Thursday. The deficit is running at an annual rate of $768 billion through the first six months of this year, putting the country on track to see a fifth straight record imbalance. Last year's deficit was $716.7 billion. Prior considerations remain apposite in this clearly overvalued market. The frauds on wall street feel compelled to continue their tradition/superstition/fraud tactic of buying on the rumor and selling on the news (fact) of the Fed’s temporary pause in rate hikes. You see, the facts/news do not rationally warrant holding dollar based securities/stocks but provide a means to scam the stupid money, to the benefit of the wall street frauds/scammers and smart money.  Yahoo previously commented: Friday was a wild day on Wall Street with early gains fueled by an encouraging July jobs report being wiped away as the return of concern tied to an economic slowdown outweighed the potential of a pause in tightening at Tuesday's Fed meeting. Before the bell, nonfarm payrolls rose a less than expected 113,000 and the unemployment rate rose for the first time since November, suggesting the labor market is losing steam and reinforcing the view that the economy is on track for a soft landing. To wit, fed funds futures were pricing in a 44% chance....., to which I responded, Wild..... I’ll give you wild: GM says their quarterly loss was $3.4 billion and not 3.2 billion as reported; Ford says their loss was $200 million dollars more than they previously reported and will now join gm in worker buyouts; but both GM and Ford will now offer built-in ipods which should substantially help their core business of building cars; meanwhile, options/accounting scandal/subterfuge occurring at the apple ipod (anything but computers) company. Analyst says GM good news now behind it (past/discounted), yet stock still rose upon said analysis …..riiiiight….. daaaaah! Apple Computer Inc. warned Thursday that it may have to revise its profits dating back to 2002 in a worsening stock option scandal, maybe even suspension, that has cast a harsh light on Silicon Valley's compensation practices. Don’t forget that GDP growth slowed substantially and below expectations at 2.5% which in the alice-in-wonderland lunatic world of wall street is of course good news. Stagflation? The fact is that no rational investor would choose dollar based stocks/securities when they could get less risky/liquid (approx.) 5% yielding cds, money market instruments, short-term treasuries/funds, etc.. However it’s not rational investors that are racking up commission dollars trading in and out of stocks like termites eating away at the huge capital funds which they control. Nothing constituting real value would account for the fraudulent rally mode this and other days. Highly leveraged obfuscating mergers/acquisitions, also very commissionable (investment bankers/brokers), and historically have more often than not ended quite badly; oil prices now above $63; yes, as in the last crash, they will get fooled again’ as stocks up sharply in the fraudulent alice-in-wonderland lunatic world of wall street where down is up and up is down. The stock market has never been so backward-looking. Indeed, amazingly, the pundits/analysts are even talking SEASONAL considerations in their fraud in the inducement which is the height of absurdity (such things are discounted well in advance in a rational market). The once objective, fact-oriented Barrons publication has now become a shill for the continuing fraud on wall street. Bush no conservative says Buckley (who also says that in Europe bush’s failed war policies would have required his expected resignation).....daaaaah!; neither are the hillbillies clintons and papa hillbilly bush. CNN's DOBBS BLASTS U.S. ISRAEL POLICY... BUCHANAN: 'Israel policy violates international law, is un-American and un-Christian'... The government is also catching on and playing the “better than expectations” game with the still very substantial deficit numbers, clouded by the use of social security funds used in the general fund rather than allocated for the defacto bankrupt social security system where they belong. ! Remember, leading economic indicators are down .6 percent continuing an ignored (by wall street frauds) downward trend/weakness extending back to the summer, 2005. Options scandal as was inherent in the (fraudulent) dotcom bust is extent and under way in nasdaq particularly. Spotlight on the Stock Option Scandal-The share prices of companies involved in stock options backdating have held up well compared to the broader market. But shareholders might be in for a rougher ride. Plus, why the Nasdaq has its hands full. I previously warned be very skeptical of up-coming government/corporate/collaborative/wall street data inasmuch as they are quite desperate and have proven [ie., illegal Iraq war/occupation, 911 attack(for the neocon contrived pearl harbor effect)/who ordered NORAD to stand down?/who were the pre911(within days) short-sellers?/ and the twin towers implosion, the missile that hit the pentagon precisely in the area that housed the army investigators who announced days before the opening of an investigation into a substantial pentagon fraud, etc.] that the truth is no obstacle when falsity is expedient and the lunatic frauds on wall street will try to tell you what’s up is down and what’s down is up. Lou Dobbs gets paid a lot of money to keep track of such things and doubts the verity of the government numbers. He is riiiiight! The catch-22 is that the defacto bankrupt u.s. is printing worthless paper (so much so that they’ve stopped reporting M3) and borrowing beyond sustainability, which is hyperinflationary despite false government numbers (ie., core inflation number to fraudulently decrease yield to ibond holders, etc.). Higher interest rates to prop worthless dollar and finance deficits inevitable despite wishin', hopin', and lyin’ to the contrary; foreclosures up, housing down, default notices up 67% (particularly in california, ie., orange, la, ventura, counties etc.) nationwide. Don’t forget: the equity in housing has been stripped out of real estate by way of the refinancing boom, which artificially stimulated the economic numbers while ultimately leaving buyers with debt exceeding actual property values. There is substantial downside bias in light of real economic considerations, particularly beyond the moment/trading day given that this bull (s**t) cycle in this indisputable secular bear market is over. Remember: more contrived wasteful commissions to the wall street frauds, the level and percentage of which should be examined in light of computerization and decreased costs attendant to same especially since only A Small Fraction Of What wall street Does Is A Net Positive For The Economy (New Investment Capital), The Rest Is Tantamount To A (Economically) "Wasteful Tax" (On The Economy) via 'churn and earn' computerized programmed trades.

US '.....going bankrupt'
By Edmund Conway, Economics Editor (Filed: 14/07/2006)

The United States is heading for bankruptcy, according to an extraordinary paper published by one of the key members of the country's central bank.

A ballooning budget deficit and a pensions and welfare timebomb could send the economic superpower into insolvency, according to research by Professor Laurence Kotlikoff for the Federal Reserve Bank of St Louis, a leading constituent of the US Federal Reserve.

Prof Kotlikoff said that, by some measures, the US is already bankrupt. "To paraphrase the Oxford English Dictionary, is the United States at the end of its resources, exhausted, stripped bare, destitute, bereft, wanting in property, or wrecked in consequence of failure to pay its creditors," he asked.

According to his central analysis, "the US government is, indeed, bankrupt, insofar as it will be unable to pay its creditors, who, in this context, are current and future generations to whom it has explicitly or implicitly promised future net payments of various kinds''.

The budget deficit in the US is not massive. The Bush administration this week cut its forecasts for the fiscal shortfall this year by almost a third, saying it will come in at 2.3pc of gross domestic product. This is smaller than most European countries - including the UK - which have deficits north of 3pc of GDP.

Prof Kotlikoff, who teaches at Boston University, says: "The proper way to consider a country's solvency is to examine the lifetime fiscal burdens facing current and future generations. If these burdens exceed the resources of those generations, get close to doing so, or simply get so high as to preclude their full collection, the country's policy will be unsustainable and can constitute or lead to national bankruptcy.

"Does the United States fit this bill? No one knows for sure, but there are strong reasons to believe the United States may be going broke."

Experts have calculated that the country's long-term "fiscal gap" between all future government spending and all future receipts will widen immensely as the Baby Boomer generation retires, and as the amount the state will have to spend on healthcare and pensions soars. The total fiscal gap could be an almost incomprehensible $65.9 trillion, according to a study by Professors Gokhale and Smetters.

The figure is massive because President George W Bush has made major tax cuts in recent years, and because the bill for Medicare, which provides health insurance for the elderly, and Medicaid, which does likewise for the poor, will increase greatly due to demographics.

Prof Kotlikoff said: "This figure is more than five times US GDP and almost twice the size of national wealth. One way to wrap one's head around $65.9trillion is to ask what fiscal adjustments are needed to eliminate this red hole. The answers are terrifying. One solution is an immediate and permanent doubling of personal and corporate income taxes. Another is an immediate and permanent two-thirds cut in Social Security and Medicare benefits. A third alternative, were it feasible, would be to immediately and permanently cut all federal discretionary spending by 143pc."

The scenario has serious implications for the dollar. If investors lose confidence in the US's future, and suspect the country may at some point allow inflation to erode away its debts, they may reduce their holdings of US Treasury bonds.

Prof Kotlikoff said: "The United States has experienced high rates of inflation in the past and appears to be running the same type of fiscal policies that engendered hyperinflations in 20 countries over the past century."

UPDATE - Two former NYSE traders found guilty of fraud

Stock market staggers, but investors still may be too optimistic

Commentary: Newsletters react to stock markets' losing week
By Peter Brimelow, MarketWatch  12:04 AM ET Jul 17, 2006
Investors may still be too optimistic
NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- First, a proprietary word: on Friday night, the Hulbert Stock Newsletter Sentiment Index (HSNSI), which reflects the average recommended stock market exposure among a subset of short-term market timing newsletters tracked by the Hulbert Financial Digest, stood at plus-23.8%. This was certainly below the 31.4% it showed on Tuesday night, when Mark Hulbert worried, presciently we must say, that it was too strong from a contrary opinion point of view. But it's still above its 12.6% reading at end of June, although, Mark pointed out, the stock market had declined in the interim. And since Mark wrote, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has had three triple-digit down days.

Not good.

Dow Theory Letters' Richard Russell wrote Friday morning: "If the Dow breaks support at 10,760, I think we could have some nasty action, even some crash-type action." But, perhaps significantly, Russell did not quite hit the panic button when the Dow did indeed close at 10,739 Friday night.

He simply remarked, supporting the contrary opinion view: "Three days in a row with the Dow down over 100 points each day -- you don't see that very often. But still no signs of real fear, no capitulation, no panic -- just down, down, and down. The key consideration here is that there is still no sign of big money coming into this market. In fact, the big money has been leaving this market all year. ... The longer the market continues down without a panic decline, the worse the ultimate panic will be when it arrives."

What is Wrong with the Stock Market?

Dr. Khaled Batarfi

 

John D. Rockefeller was once asked why he decided to sell all his stocks just months before the 1929 Wall Street Crash. He explained: One morning, I was on the way to my office and stopped to have my shoes polished. The guy asked my advice about the shares he bought. If people with this kind of talent were now playing the market, I knew there was something wrong.....

 

U.S. Treasury balances at Fed fell on July 17Tue Jul 18, 2006

WASHINGTON, July 18 (Reuters) - U.S. Treasury balances at the Federal Reserve, based on the Treasury Department's latest budget statement (billions of dollars, except where noted):

              July 17 July 14 (respectively)

Fed acct  4.087 4.935

Tax/loan note acct 10.502 10.155

Cash balance 14.589 15.192

National debt,

subject to limit 8,311.633 8,323.084

The statutory debt limit is $8.965 trillion.

The Treasury said there were $192 million in individual tax refunds and $23 million in corporate tax refunds issued.

End Of The Bubble Bailouts A. Gary Shilling, Insight 08.29.06 - For a quarter-century, Americans’ spending binge has been fueled by a declining savings rate and increased borrowing. The savings rate of American consumers has fallen from 12% in the early 1980s to -1.7% today (see chart below). This means that, on average, consumer spending has risen about a half percentage point more than disposable, or after-tax, income per year for a quarter-century.

The fact that Americans are saving less and less of their after-tax income is only half the profligate consumer story. If someone borrows to buy a car, his savings rate declines because his outlays go up but his disposable income doesn’t. So the downward march in the personal savings rate is closely linked to the upward march in total consumer debt (mortgage, credit card, auto, etc.) in relation to disposable income (see chart below).

Robust consumer spending was fueled first by the soaring stock market of the 1990s and, more recently, by the housing bubble, as house prices departed from their normal close link to the Consumer Price Index (see chart below) and subsequently racked up huge appreciation for homeowners, who continued to save less and spend more. Thanks to accommodative lenders eager to provide refinancings and home equity loans, Americans extracted $719 billion in cash from their houses last year after a $633 billion withdrawal in 2004, according to the Federal Reserve.

But the housing bubble is deflating rapidly. I expect at least a 20% decline in median single-family house prices nationwide, and that number may be way understated. A bursting of the bubble would force many homeowners to curb their outlays in order to close the gaps between their income and spending growth. That would surely precipitate a major recession that would become global, given the dependence of most foreign countries on U.S. consumers to buy the excess goods and services for which they have no other markets.

That is, unless another source of money can bridge the gap between consumer incomes and outlays, just as house appreciation seamlessly took over when stocks nosedived. What could that big new source of money be? And would it be available soon, given the likelihood that house prices will swoon in coming quarters?

One possible source of big, although not immediate, money to sustain consumer spending is inheritance. Some estimates in the 1990s had the postwar babies, who have saved little for their retirement, inheriting between $10 trillion and $41 trillion from their parents in the coming decades. But subsequent work by AARP, using the Federal Reserve’s Survey of Consumer Finances for 2004 and previous years, slashed the total for inheritances of all people alive today to $12 trillion in 2005 dollars. Most of it, $9.2 trillion, will go to pre-boomers born before 1946, only $2.1 trillion to the postwar babies born between 1946 and 1964, and $0.7 trillion to the post-boomers.

Furthermore, the value of all previous inheritances as reported in the 2004 survey was $49,902 on average, with $70,317 for pre-boomers, $48,768 for boomers and $24,348 for post-boomers. Clearly, these are not numbers that provide for comfortable retirements and, therefore, allow people to continue to spend like drunken sailors.

What other assets could consumers borrow against or liquidate to support spending growth in the future? After all, they do have a lot of net worth, almost $54 trillion for households and nonprofit organizations as of the end of the first quarter. Nevertheless, there aren’t any other big assets left to tap. Another big stock bonanza is unlikely for decades, and the real estate bubble is deflating.

Deposits total $6.3 trillion, but the majority, $4.9 trillion worth, is in time and savings deposits, largely held for retirement by financially conservative people. Is it likely that a speculator who owns five houses has sizable time deposits to fall back on? Households and nonprofits hold $3.2 trillion in bonds and other credit market instruments, but most owned by individuals are in conservative hands. Life insurance reserves can be borrowed, but their total size, $1.1 trillion, pales in comparison to the $1.8 trillion that homeowners extracted from their houses in the 2003-2005 years. There’s $6.7 trillion of equity in noncorporate business, but the vast majority of that is needed by typically cash-poor small businesses to keep their doors open.

Pension funds might be a source of cash for consumers who want to live it up now and take the Scarlett O’Hara, “I’ll worry about that tomorrow” attitude toward retirement. They totaled $11.1 trillion in the first quarter, but that number includes public funds and private defined benefit plans that are seldom available to pre-retirees unless they leave their jobs.

The private defined contribution plans, typically 401(k)s, totaled $2.5 trillion in 2004 and have been growing rapidly because employers favor them. But sadly, many employees, especially those at lower income levels, don’t share their bosses’ zeal. Only about 70% participate in their company 401(k) plans and thereby take advantage of company contributions. Lower paid employees are especially absent from participation, with 40% of those making less than $20,000 contributing (60% of those earning $20,000 to $40,000), while 90% of employees earning $100,000 or more participate.

Furthermore, the amount that employees could net from withdrawals from defined contribution plans would be far less than the $2.5 trillion total, probably less than the $1.8 trillion they pulled out of their houses from 2003 to 2005. That $2.5 trillion total includes company contributions that are not yet vested and can’t be withdrawn. Also, withdrawals by those under 59½ years old are subject to a 10% penalty, with income taxes due on the remainder.

With soaring stock portfolios now ancient history and leaping house prices about to be, no other sources, such as inheritance or pension fund withdrawals, are likely to fill the gap between robust consumer spending and weak income growth. Consumer retrenchment and the saving spree I’ve been expecting may finally be about to commence. And the effects on consumer behavior, especially on borrowing and discretionary spending, will be broad and deep.

Analysts' Forecasts and Brokerage-Firm Trading
THE ACCOUNTING REVIEW Vol. 79, No. 1 2004 pp. 125–149 Analysts’ Forecasts and
Brokerage-Firm Trading
Paul J. Irvine Emory University University of Georgia
Collectively, these results suggest that analysts can generate higher trading commissions through their positive stock recommendations than by biasing their forecasts.

WHISPERS OF MERGERS SET OFF BOUTS OF SUSPICIOUS TRADING...
August 27, 2006 NYTimes By GRETCHEN MORGENSONThe boom in corporate mergers is creating concern that illicit trading ahead of deal announcements is becoming a systemic problem.

ly bad

(12-18-06) Stocks drop still only modestly relative to reality with suckers bear market rally still intact as the wall street fraud continues to suck the suckers in; ie., as the Dow Jones industrial average fell 4.25, S&P fell 4.61 ,and NASDAQ fell 21.63, all very commissionable on heavy volume, as in final pre-election result push for bush, which fell very short. New Record Quarterly Trade Deficit initially spurs lunatic market rally along with obfuscating but very commissionable merger activity. Core inflation a very unexpected unchanged .....riiiiight!.....spurs superstitious, devoid of reality, santa rally.  Investment Banks Post Record 2006 Profit .....daaaaah! Churning and earning on worthless paper, where is that commission dollar coming from even as america has ceded solvency/leadership in every economic measure. Even at the lofty record numbers the indices are worth roughly half their value based on precipitous fall of the dollar in only 5 years with further downside to go. Superstitious ‘Santa Claus rally’.....riiiiight! High oil price rally.....riiiiight!  Total  bulls**t ! Retail sales up a very unexpected 1%, riiiiight, at the same time inventories of such goods rising substantially (do you think they’re booking sales to ‘straw men/companies’.....I do!) and oil inventories down. Fake employment numbers (from the government.....riiiiight!) the impetus for previous b.s. rally despite falling sentiment and uptick in unemployment. The ism services index (financed by unsustainable deficit/debt spending and pushing/commissioning worthless paper) and jawboning/bulls**t from the housing industry (the end is near.....riiiiight!), obfuscating mergers continued to cloud the picture, closely-watched core-PCE deflator had risen a more than expected 0.2%, second sub-50 reading on manufacturing activity in as many sessions-the November ISM index unexpectedly fell to 49.5 (consensus 52.0), Chicago PMI fell to its lowest level (49.9%) in October, and below the 50 level, indicating contraction, crude prices up  (OIL PRICES RISE ABOVE $63 A BARREL...), DOLLAR RESUMES SLIDE, Fed Chairman Bernanke & Co. cheerleading/jawboning/bulls**t, 3.2% decline in new home sales, oil inventories down and oil prices up, oil producers shun the dollar, Russia and Opec shift revenues into euros, yen and sterling..., all very bad news anywhere but in the fraudulent alice-in-wonderland world of wall street. Durable goods orders fell sharply, sentiment down, but supposedly used home sales rose slightly (riiiiight.....who says; the realtors/government who have been talking up this bubble market?) albeit at sharply lower prices. DOLLAR PLUNGES TO NEAR 15-YEAR LOW  In other words, no good news to justify the ridiculous up move by the alice-in-wonderland frauds of wall street. Worthless dollar, triple deficits, stock/options scandals/corruption, as some speculate that fed is behind purchases/manipulation (through proxy) of worthless american paper now being shunned by more rational market players abroad.  MARKETS ROCKED BY LONG OVERDUE BUT STILL MODEST RELATIVE TO REALITY SHARP SLIDE IN DOLLAR...There has never been a time since 1929 when stock prices and p/e ratios were so irrationally high for this point in a bull cycle in this indisputable secular bear market, particularly with the existing unprecedented structural economic problems, ie., trade and budget deficits, worthless dollar, scandals, fraud, corruption , etc.. In fact, unemployment unexpectedly rose substantially and consumer sentiment unexpectedly but similarly realistically fell, both very negative exept in the  fraudulent alice-in-wonderland world of wall street. Indeed, the housing bubble bursting with ie., unexpected 14% decline in starts/permits, etc., led to rally in the fraudulent alice-in-wonderland world of wall street. Obfuscating mergers help preclude detection of this massive and pervasive fraud which defies analysis owing to these mergers. New talking pointing: dell numbers exceed expectations depending upon ongoing government scrutiny of their accounting practices.....riiiiight! More contrived manipulated markets and data well as that previous unexpected rise in that global hub of manufacturing activity, New York (worthless paper is their real product, etc.) …..riiiiight!….. underpins fraudulent up move. Reassuring Fed speak, also known as b**l s**t, along with IPO’s (get the suckers in at the highs as in late 90’s market bubble), and shrugging off pervasive stock/options fraud as at, ie., KB Homes, etc., leave stocks ridiculously higher. Nations leaving the worthless dollar in droves for currencies backed by value and for precious metals. Based on the self-interested statement of typical fraud american and fed rep, we hear once again the wishful thought that housing has bottomed.....right! [Reality/Truth: US housing slump deepens, spreads]. Home depot rallies despite lower than expected results and lower guidance for the year.....right! Who is stupid enough to believe anything the fraudulent criminal americans say. They are printing worthless dollars like mad. Consumer sentiment actually previously fell and there was nothing but wall street lunacy to prop the fraudulent market. The republicans who lockstepped with war criminal dumbya bush deserved to lose. The frauds on wall street now looking for the new corporate welfare program for which to sell the sizzle ie., stem cells, etc.. The know-nothing pundits are now saying the up move without any rational basis is predicated upon the the falsity that gridlock in washington is welcomed and good because no regulation of, ie., fraud on wall street, etc., can be passed. How about a tax on stock trades to come directly from the traders' (traitors/frauds) bottom lines and provide a disincentive for the churn-and-earn fraud which is tantamount to a wasteful tax on the economy. Even token Christian paulison from jew fraud wall street couldn't stem the tide against the blatent zionist/neocon/bush co failure accross the board as the wall street frauds show record profits financed, albeit indirectly, by huge deficits, both trade and budget. Obfuscating mergers blur the picture to provide cover for up move talking points in defiance of reality.  Stagflation and full employment revisions pre-election.....riiiiight. Productivity comes in at a less than expected 0 (inflationary). The only surprise should have been that the number wasn't negative. The pundits are now saying that the market/wall street fraud is in a state of denial regarding economic fundamentals and that the market is substantially overbought, overvalued, overfrauded, over, etc., the manufacturing index coming in lower than expectations. Consumer sentiment unexpectedly fell.....daaaaah. Pre-election core inflation rate report good …..riiiiight…..but savings rate still negative and walmart sales/profits/outlook substantially below expectations but what the heck, they’re wallstreet lunatics/frauds and reality is no problem. Despite pre-election deficit spending, GNP comes in a less than expected paltry 1.6% increase with worthless falling dollar the catch-22 precluding reality avoidance and the worst yet to come. More nations leaving the worthless dollar as reserve currency even as frauds on wall street reach new highs (What are they smoking? Coking? or like the dollar just cracking) based on corporate welfare flows with money the nation doesn't have pre-election (record deficits). Housing prices continue their sharp decline as bubble deflates. GM only lost 115 million. Ford lost 5.8 billion and must restate earnings back to year 2000 is a bullish sign in the fraudulent alice-in-wonderland lunatic world of wall street. Typical pre-fed meeting rally to provide a cushion for any negative pronouncements which reality would require but are seldom forthcoming by the accommodative frauds who have similarly embraced unreality. Indeed, the gutless wimps of wall street think they're "tough" when they fraudulently take the market higher despite a clearly contrary fact based reality. Caterpillar relates the pervasive reality and the frauds on wallstreet intimidate same with sell off, ignoring pervasive options scandal/fraud and rallies Merck despite lower than expectation results.....riiiiight! Election year corporate welfare to prime the pump and the mock stock market with money the nation doesn’t have (increasing already huge deficits). CPI figures (upon which government inflation adjusted payment obligations are based) lower than expected…..riiiiight! Intel earnings/revenues down sharply but according to the lunatic frauds on wall street, beat expectations and stock rallies along with yahoo which as in the pre-dot com bust days says better days are a coming….. riiiiight Core inflation rate which is closely watched by the Fed exceeds all expectations. Fraud Merrill Lynch has really been pushing and commissioning that worthless paper and reports record earnings, despite having produced nothing and for very little if any value added (that ill-gotten money has to come from somewhere-your pockets?). The big economic report awaiting scrutiny was the monthly trade deficit which was expected to narrow but in fact INCREASED to 69.9 billion. The alice-in-wonderland lunatic wall street frauds rallied on the news as the dollar precipitously fell. The Fed Chairman said there is a "substantial correction" in housing, which will probably shave about 1% off growth in the second half of the year. The Institute of Supply Management said its services index fell to 52.9 in September -- the lowest level since April 2003. Great News….. riiiiight!..... Consumer Confidence Higher Than Expected... riiiiight!..... and housing starts were down sharply but not-as-bad-as-expectations game in play US Existing Home Sales Fall 0.5% in August; Sales Price Drops Existing-home prices fall for 1st time in 11 years along with fed jaw-boning pre-election that inflation has been licked .....riiiiight …..despite printing worthless dollars like they’re going out of style because they really are! Fed did nothing and stocks rallied, pre-election.....riiiiight! What about the reality of u.s. debt service at a record unsustainable $2 billion per day on a revolving $2 trillion charge account with ie., China, etc.. The fact that foreclosures are up and that there is projected new trade deficit record, fake government inflation numbers for election year purposes, housing starts down 6% means little to the alice-in-wonderland lunatic frauds of wall street and the so-called pundits including yahoo below. Almost all computerized volume is and must be considered heavy, manipulated, economically wasteful volume [stocks move contrary to rational analytical facts (ie., exceeded lowered expectations, things so bad interest rates can’t rise, exceeded expectations, no earnings but outlook extraordinary, the fed says booo as they print more worthless dollars to finance deficits, etc. ) is money in the bank for the frauds on wall street when they unwind said irrational positions ]. Philadelphia Federal Reserve announces that its broadest measure of manufacturing activity fell to a negative reading for the first time since April 2003, leading economic indicators fall .2%, and previously fell .1% though expected to show an increase, and in addition to the larger than expected 4.1% drop in July existing home sales to its lowest level in over two years and lifted inventories to record levels , new home sales fell 4.3%, and a larger than expected 2.4% decline in July durable orders which are negatives anywhere but in the alice-in-wonderland lunatic world of wall street where same is greeted as good news as also follows with b**l s**t from Yahoo (which didn’t even reference the record unanticipated trade gap):

Oracle 2Q Earnings Climb 21 Percent
AP - Oracle Corp.'s strongest earnings streak since the dot-com boom may be losing its vigor. At least that's how it appeared to investors late Monday after the business software maker reported fiscal second-quarter earnings that merely matched analyst estimates -- a letdown that overshadowed the latest gains that the business software maker has reaped from a two-year shopping spree that has bolstered its product line.

NYSE-Euronext Wins Crucial Support AP
T.M.X. Elmo Was Developed in Secrecy
AP
EBay to Open Chinese Web Site in Shift
AP
Dow Ends Down 4 After Barrage of Buyouts
AP

A day of deal-making on Wall Street got stocks off to a good start, but an underlying sense that the market is overbought on a short-term basis created a wall of resistance for the major indices.The Nasdaq was the hardest hit among the major averages, as a wave of profit taking in large-cap issues in the afternoon session sparked a noticeable pullback that ultimately dragged down the broader market.A weak energy sector (-2.68%) was also to blame as it took a dive in conjunction with crude prices (-$1.28 to $62.81) and brokerage downgrades of sector heavyweights ExxonMobil (XOM 75.51, -1.79) and Schlumberger (SLB 65.07, -2.48).The outperformance of the financial sector (+0.46%), which was bolstered by a Merrill Lynch upgrade of Citigroup (C 55.44, +1.37) to Buy from Neutral and gains in the investment banks that followed a spate of M&A activity, proved instrumental in keeping the broader market's losses in check.  General Electric (GE 38.00, +0.64) hitting a new-52-week high also helped in that respect.The M&A highlights today included a $26 billion offer from Express Scripts (ESRX 69.97, +1.31) to acquire Caremark (CMX 55.58, +5.28), a $10.9 billion private equity bid to purchase Biomet (BMET 41.59, -0.41), and a near $9.0 billion offer from Apollo Management to buy Realogy (H).  It was also reported that Harrah's Entertainment (HET 82.18, +2.68) is ready to strike a deal with a private equity group for approximately $17 billion or $90 per share.As an aside, Caremark previously signed a definitive merger agreement with CVS Corp. (CVS 30.01, -0.51), so the Express Scripts bid promises to make things interesting for those companies, and their shareholders, in the coming weeks.Looking to Tuesday, the trading action is expected to be shaped by the fiscal second earnings report from Oracle (ORCL 17.91, +0.23) and the Housing Starts and PPI data that will be released at 08:30 ET.DJ30 -4.25 NASDAQ -21.63 NQ100 -0.97% SP500 -4.61 NASDAQ Dec/Adv/Vol 2170/898/1.80 bln NYSE Dec/Adv/Vol 2932/1283/1.36 bln

U.S. HOUSING SLUMP DEEPENS, SPREADS
BARRIE MCKENNA Washington — First, Americans quit buying homes. Now, they may have stopped fixing and furnishing them too. Home Depot Inc. reported a 3-per-cent drop in profit in the three months that ended in October, amid mounting evidence that the U.S. housing slump is getting worse. “I don't think we've seen the bottom yet, and I don't see anything that says it's going to get significantly better in 2007,” said Bob Nardelli, Home Depot's chairman and chief executive officer. Mr. Nardelli said job losses in the home construction market are the worst he's seen in 35 years, and the pain is starting to spread to the home renovation market. “The loss of jobs ... in the home construction market is at unprecedented levels,” Mr. Nardelli told analysts on a conference call Tuesday. “Home builders [are] basically writing off earnest money and liquidating land. We're starting to see a lot of that unemployment find its way over to the small repair and remodel contractors.” Problems in the housing sector have also begun to affect how consumers spend their money. In October, U.S. retail sales fell at an annual rate of 0.2 per cent — the third consecutive monthly decline, according to a U.S. Commerce Department report Tuesday. The decline was heavily influenced by lower gasoline prices, which resulted in less revenue for gas stations. But there were also sharp declines in building materials (down 0.3 per cent), furniture (down 0.7 per cent) and department store sales (down 0.7 per cent). Over the past three months, sales of building materials have plunged at an annual rate of 10.6 per cent. “The housing slowdown left its grimy fingerprints all over this report,” BMO Nesbitt Burns economist Douglas Porter said in a note to clients. Lower gasoline prices don't seem to be causing consumers to spend elsewhere, as many economists had predicted. Even if you strip out volatile gas, food and auto sales, all other retail sales rose a meagre 0.1 per cent October. “People are being very cautious,” said Ian Shepherdson, chief North American economist at High Frequency Economics. “The housing crunch is now hurting.” At least two other bellwether U.S. retailers — Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Target Corp. — reported Tuesday that their sales and profit remain strong, in spite of the problems in the housing sector. But executives at Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, acknowledged that sales in the third quarter were disappointing and it is already vowing its biggest-ever discounting binge on items such as toys and electronics to keep cash registers ringing this Christmas. “This season, no one will doubt Wal-Mart's leadership on price and value,” Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott said. Wal-Mart's profit rose to $2.65-billion (U.S.) or 63 cents a share in the third quarter that ended Oct. 31, up from $2.37-billion or 57 cents a year earlier. That was slightly below what analysts had expected, according to Reuters. Sales were up 12 per cent to $83.5-billion. But those figures include sales at newly opened stores and foreign stores. Sales at U.S. stores that have been open at least a year were up just 1.5 per cent, and Mr. Scott said fourth-quarter sales would rise just 1 to 2 per cent.

There is nothing to rationally justify the previous up move or mixed results in the market other than what is tantamount to a negative, and based upon spurious data from the government; ie., fake government numbers said total PPI rose a smaller than expected 0.1% (consensus 0.4%) in July, which was well below the 0.5% jump in June, while the more closely watched core rate (ex-food and energy) unexpectedly (RIIIIIGHT!) fell 0.3% (consensus +0.2%) -- the first decline since October and the largest drop since a 0.5% decline in April 2003. Home Sales Decline in 28 States, D.C.. Real estate prices down/stagnant. But housing stocks…..up.....riiiiight!.....in the fraudulent "alice-in-wonderland" lunatic world of wall street where down is up and up is down.  Martin Crutsinger, AP Economics Writer, previously wrote,” U.S. Trade Deficit Falls 0.3 Percent in June to $64.8B, Offsetting Jump in Chinese Imports. Dell Recall Stems From sony Production Flaw  WASHINGTON (AP) -- America's trade deficit showed a slight improvement as strong global growth pushed U.S. exports to a record level. That helped offset a surge in Chinese imports and record crude oil prices. The deficit declined 0.3 percent in June, compared with May, dropping to $64.8 billion, still the fifth largest imbalance on record, the Commerce Department reported Thursday. The deficit is running at an annual rate of $768 billion through the first six months of this year, putting the country on track to see a fifth straight record imbalance. Last year's deficit was $716.7 billion. Prior considerations remain apposite in this clearly overvalued market. The frauds on wall street feel compelled to continue their tradition/superstition/fraud tactic of buying on the rumor and selling on the news (fact) of the Fed’s temporary pause in rate hikes. You see, the facts/news do not rationally warrant holding dollar based securities/stocks but provide a means to scam the stupid money, to the benefit of the wall street frauds/scammers and smart money.  Yahoo previously commented: Friday was a wild day on Wall Street with early gains fueled by an encouraging July jobs report being wiped away as the return of concern tied to an economic slowdown outweighed the potential of a pause in tightening at Tuesday's Fed meeting. Before the bell, nonfarm payrolls rose a less than expected 113,000 and the unemployment rate rose for the first time since November, suggesting the labor market is losing steam and reinforcing the view that the economy is on track for a soft landing. To wit, fed funds futures were pricing in a 44% chance....., to which I responded, Wild..... I’ll give you wild: GM says their quarterly loss was $3.4 billion and not 3.2 billion as reported; Ford says their loss was $200 million dollars more than they previously reported and will now join gm in worker buyouts; but both GM and Ford will now offer built-in ipods which should substantially help their core business of building cars; meanwhile, options/accounting scandal/subterfuge occurring at the apple ipod (anything but computers) company. Analyst says GM good news now behind it (past/discounted), yet stock still rose upon said analysis …..riiiiight….. daaaaah! Apple Computer Inc. warned Thursday that it may have to revise its profits dating back to 2002 in a worsening stock option scandal, maybe even suspension, that has cast a harsh light on Silicon Valley's compensation practices. Don’t forget that GDP growth slowed substantially and below expectations at 2.5% which in the alice-in-wonderland lunatic world of wall street is of course good news. Stagflation? The fact is that no rational investor would choose dollar based stocks/securities when they could get less risky/liquid (approx.) 5% yielding cds, money market instruments, short-term treasuries/funds, etc.. However it’s not rational investors that are racking up commission dollars trading in and out of stocks like termites eating away at the huge capital funds which they control. Nothing constituting real value would account for the fraudulent rally mode this and other days. Highly leveraged obfuscating mergers/acquisitions, also very commissionable (investment bankers/brokers), and historically have more often than not ended quite badly; oil prices now above $63; yes, as in the last crash, they will get fooled again’ as stocks up sharply in the fraudulent alice-in-wonderland lunatic world of wall street where down is up and up is down. The stock market has never been so backward-looking. Indeed, amazingly, the pundits/analysts are even talking SEASONAL considerations in their fraud in the inducement which is the height of absurdity (such things are discounted well in advance in a rational market). The once objective, fact-oriented Barrons publication has now become a shill for the continuing fraud on wall street. Bush no conservative says Buckley (who also says that in Europe bush’s failed war policies would have required his expected resignation).....daaaaah!; neither are the hillbillies clintons and papa hillbilly bush. CNN's DOBBS BLASTS U.S. ISRAEL POLICY... BUCHANAN: 'Israel policy violates international law, is un-American and un-Christian'... The government is also catching on and playing the “better than expectations” game with the still very substantial deficit numbers, clouded by the use of social security funds used in the general fund rather than allocated for the defacto bankrupt social security system where they belong. ! Remember, leading economic indicators are down .6 percent continuing an ignored (by wall street frauds) downward trend/weakness extending back to the summer, 2005. Options scandal as was inherent in the (fraudulent) dotcom bust is extent and under way in nasdaq particularly. Spotlight on the Stock Option Scandal-The share prices of companies involved in stock options backdating have held up well compared to the broader market. But shareholders might be in for a rougher ride. Plus, why the Nasdaq has its hands full. I previously warned be very skeptical of up-coming government/corporate/collaborative/wall street data inasmuch as they are quite desperate and have proven [ie., illegal Iraq war/occupation, 911 attack(for the neocon contrived pearl harbor effect)/who ordered NORAD to stand down?/who were the pre911(within days) short-sellers?/ and the twin towers implosion, the missile that hit the pentagon precisely in the area that housed the army investigators who announced days before the opening of an investigation into a substantial pentagon fraud, etc.] that the truth is no obstacle when falsity is expedient and the lunatic frauds on wall street will try to tell you what’s up is down and what’s down is up. Lou Dobbs gets paid a lot of money to keep track of such things and doubts the verity of the government numbers. He is riiiiight! The catch-22 is that the defacto bankrupt u.s. is printing worthless paper (so much so that they’ve stopped reporting M3) and borrowing beyond sustainability, which is hyperinflationary despite false government numbers (ie., core inflation number to fraudulently decrease yield to ibond holders, etc.). Higher interest rates to prop worthless dollar and finance deficits inevitable despite wishin', hopin', and lyin’ to the contrary; foreclosures up, housing down, default notices up 67% (particularly in california, ie., orange, la, ventura, counties etc.) nationwide. Don’t forget: the equity in housing has been stripped out of real estate by way of the refinancing boom, which artificially stimulated the economic numbers while ultimately leaving buyers with debt exceeding actual property values. There is substantial downside bias in light of real economic considerations, particularly beyond the moment/trading day given that this bull (s**t) cycle in this indisputable secular bear market is over. Remember: more contrived wasteful commissions to the wall street frauds, the level and percentage of which should be examined in light of computerization and decreased costs attendant to same especially since only A Small Fraction Of What wall street Does Is A Net Positive For The Economy (New Investment Capital), The Rest Is Tantamount To A (Economically) "Wasteful Tax" (On The Economy) via 'churn and earn' computerized programmed trades.

US '.....going bankrupt'
By Edmund Conway, Economics Editor (Filed: 14/07/2006)

The United States is heading for bankruptcy, according to an extraordinary paper published by one of the key members of the country's central bank.

A ballooning budget deficit and a pensions and welfare timebomb could send the economic superpower into insolvency, according to research by Professor Laurence Kotlikoff for the Federal Reserve Bank of St Louis, a leading constituent of the US Federal Reserve.

Prof Kotlikoff said that, by some measures, the US is already bankrupt. "To paraphrase the Oxford English Dictionary, is the United States at the end of its resources, exhausted, stripped bare, destitute, bereft, wanting in property, or wrecked in consequence of failure to pay its creditors," he asked.

According to his central analysis, "the US government is, indeed, bankrupt, insofar as it will be unable to pay its creditors, who, in this context, are current and future generations to whom it has explicitly or implicitly promised future net payments of various kinds''.

The budget deficit in the US is not massive. The Bush administration this week cut its forecasts for the fiscal shortfall this year by almost a third, saying it will come in at 2.3pc of gross domestic product. This is smaller than most European countries - including the UK - which have deficits north of 3pc of GDP.

Prof Kotlikoff, who teaches at Boston University, says: "The proper way to consider a country's solvency is to examine the lifetime fiscal burdens facing current and future generations. If these burdens exceed the resources of those generations, get close to doing so, or simply get so high as to preclude their full collection, the country's policy will be unsustainable and can constitute or lead to national bankruptcy.

"Does the United States fit this bill? No one knows for sure, but there are strong reasons to believe the United States may be going broke."

Experts have calculated that the country's long-term "fiscal gap" between all future government spending and all future receipts will widen immensely as the Baby Boomer generation retires, and as the amount the state will have to spend on healthcare and pensions soars. The total fiscal gap could be an almost incomprehensible $65.9 trillion, according to a study by Professors Gokhale and Smetters.

The figure is massive because President George W Bush has made major tax cuts in recent years, and because the bill for Medicare, which provides health insurance for the elderly, and Medicaid, which does likewise for the poor, will increase greatly due to demographics.

Prof Kotlikoff said: "This figure is more than five times US GDP and almost twice the size of national wealth. One way to wrap one's head around $65.9trillion is to ask what fiscal adjustments are needed to eliminate this red hole. The answers are terrifying. One solution is an immediate and permanent doubling of personal and corporate income taxes. Another is an immediate and permanent two-thirds cut in Social Security and Medicare benefits. A third alternative, were it feasible, would be to immediately and permanently cut all federal discretionary spending by 143pc."

The scenario has serious implications for the dollar. If investors lose confidence in the US's future, and suspect the country may at some point allow inflation to erode away its debts, they may reduce their holdings of US Treasury bonds.

Prof Kotlikoff said: "The United States has experienced high rates of inflation in the past and appears to be running the same type of fiscal policies that engendered hyperinflations in 20 countries over the past century."

UPDATE - Two former NYSE traders found guilty of fraud

Stock market staggers, but investors still may be too optimistic

Commentary: Newsletters react to stock markets' losing week
By Peter Brimelow, MarketWatch  12:04 AM ET Jul 17, 2006
Investors may still be too optimistic
NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- First, a proprietary word: on Friday night, the Hulbert Stock Newsletter Sentiment Index (HSNSI), which reflects the average recommended stock market exposure among a subset of short-term market timing newsletters tracked by the Hulbert Financial Digest, stood at plus-23.8%. This was certainly below the 31.4% it showed on Tuesday night, when Mark Hulbert worried, presciently we must say, that it was too strong from a contrary opinion point of view. But it's still above its 12.6% reading at end of June, although, Mark pointed out, the stock market had declined in the interim. And since Mark wrote, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has had three triple-digit down days.

Not good.

Dow Theory Letters' Richard Russell wrote Friday morning: "If the Dow breaks support at 10,760, I think we could have some nasty action, even some crash-type action." But, perhaps significantly, Russell did not quite hit the panic button when the Dow did indeed close at 10,739 Friday night.

He simply remarked, supporting the contrary opinion view: "Three days in a row with the Dow down over 100 points each day -- you don't see that very often. But still no signs of real fear, no capitulation, no panic -- just down, down, and down. The key consideration here is that there is still no sign of big money coming into this market. In fact, the big money has been leaving this market all year. ... The longer the market continues down without a panic decline, the worse the ultimate panic will be when it arrives."

What is Wrong with the Stock Market?

Dr. Khaled Batarfi

 

John D. Rockefeller was once asked why he decided to sell all his stocks just months before the 1929 Wall Street Crash. He explained: One morning, I was on the way to my office and stopped to have my shoes polished. The guy asked my advice about the shares he bought. If people with this kind of talent were now playing the market, I knew there was something wrong.....

 

U.S. Treasury balances at Fed fell on July 17Tue Jul 18, 2006

WASHINGTON, July 18 (Reuters) - U.S. Treasury balances at the Federal Reserve, based on the Treasury Department's latest budget statement (billions of dollars, except where noted):

              July 17 July 14 (respectively)

Fed acct  4.087 4.935

Tax/loan note acct 10.502 10.155

Cash balance 14.589 15.192

National debt,

subject to limit 8,311.633 8,323.084

The statutory debt limit is $8.965 trillion.

The Treasury said there were $192 million in individual tax refunds and $23 million in corporate tax refunds issued.

End Of The Bubble Bailouts A. Gary Shilling, Insight 08.29.06 - For a quarter-century, Americans’ spending binge has been fueled by a declining savings rate and increased borrowing. The savings rate of American consumers has fallen from 12% in the early 1980s to -1.7% today (see chart below). This means that, on average, consumer spending has risen about a half percentage point more than disposable, or after-tax, income per year for a quarter-century.

The fact that Americans are saving less and less of their after-tax income is only half the profligate consumer story. If someone borrows to buy a car, his savings rate declines because his outlays go up but his disposable income doesn’t. So the downward march in the personal savings rate is closely linked to the upward march in total consumer debt (mortgage, credit card, auto, etc.) in relation to disposable income (see chart below).

Robust consumer spending was fueled first by the soaring stock market of the 1990s and, more recently, by the housing bubble, as house prices departed from their normal close link to the Consumer Price Index (see chart below) and subsequently racked up huge appreciation for homeowners, who continued to save less and spend more. Thanks to accommodative lenders eager to provide refinancings and home equity loans, Americans extracted $719 billion in cash from their houses last year after a $633 billion withdrawal in 2004, according to the Federal Reserve.

But the housing bubble is deflating rapidly. I expect at least a 20% decline in median single-family house prices nationwide, and that number may be way understated. A bursting of the bubble would force many homeowners to curb their outlays in order to close the gaps between their income and spending growth. That would surely precipitate a major recession that would become global, given the dependence of most foreign countries on U.S. consumers to buy the excess goods and services for which they have no other markets.

That is, unless another source of money can bridge the gap between consumer incomes and outlays, just as house appreciation seamlessly took over when stocks nosedived. What could that big new source of money be? And would it be available soon, given the likelihood that house prices will swoon in coming quarters?

One possible source of big, although not immediate, money to sustain consumer spending is inheritance. Some estimates in the 1990s had the postwar babies, who have saved little for their retirement, inheriting between $10 trillion and $41 trillion from their parents in the coming decades. But subsequent work by AARP, using the Federal Reserve’s Survey of Consumer Finances for 2004 and previous years, slashed the total for inheritances of all people alive today to $12 trillion in 2005 dollars. Most of it, $9.2 trillion, will go to pre-boomers born before 1946, only $2.1 trillion to the postwar babies born between 1946 and 1964, and $0.7 trillion to the post-boomers.

Furthermore, the value of all previous inheritances as reported in the 2004 survey was $49,902 on average, with $70,317 for pre-boomers, $48,768 for boomers and $24,348 for post-boomers. Clearly, these are not numbers that provide for comfortable retirements and, therefore, allow people to continue to spend like drunken sailors.

What other assets could consumers borrow against or liquidate to support spending growth in the future? After all, they do have a lot of net worth, almost $54 trillion for households and nonprofit organizations as of the end of the first quarter. Nevertheless, there aren’t any other big assets left to tap. Another big stock bonanza is unlikely for decades, and the real estate bubble is deflating.

Deposits total $6.3 trillion, but the majority, $4.9 trillion worth, is in time and savings deposits, largely held for retirement by financially conservative people. Is it likely that a speculator who owns five houses has sizable time deposits to fall back on? Households and nonprofits hold $3.2 trillion in bonds and other credit market instruments, but most owned by individuals are in conservative hands. Life insurance reserves can be borrowed, but their total size, $1.1 trillion, pales in comparison to the $1.8 trillion that homeowners extracted from their houses in the 2003-2005 years. There’s $6.7 trillion of equity in noncorporate business, but the vast majority of that is needed by typically cash-poor small businesses to keep their doors open.

Pension funds might be a source of cash for consumers who want to live it up now and take the Scarlett O’Hara, “I’ll worry about that tomorrow” attitude toward retirement. They totaled $11.1 trillion in the first quarter, but that number includes public funds and private defined benefit plans that are seldom available to pre-retirees unless they leave their jobs.

The private defined contribution plans, typically 401(k)s, totaled $2.5 trillion in 2004 and have been growing rapidly because employers favor them. But sadly, many employees, especially those at lower income levels, don’t share their bosses’ zeal. Only about 70% participate in their company 401(k) plans and thereby take advantage of company contributions. Lower paid employees are especially absent from participation, with 40% of those making less than $20,000 contributing (60% of those earning $20,000 to $40,000), while 90% of employees earning $100,000 or more participate.

Furthermore, the amount that employees could net from withdrawals from defined contribution plans would be far less than the $2.5 trillion total, probably less than the $1.8 trillion they pulled out of their houses from 2003 to 2005. That $2.5 trillion total includes company contributions that are not yet vested and can’t be withdrawn. Also, withdrawals by those under 59½ years old are subject to a 10% penalty, with income taxes due on the remainder.

With soaring stock portfolios now ancient history and leaping house prices about to be, no other sources, such as inheritance or pension fund withdrawals, are likely to fill the gap between robust consumer spending and weak income growth. Consumer retrenchment and the saving spree I’ve been expecting may finally be about to commence. And the effects on consumer behavior, especially on borrowing and discretionary spending, will be broad and deep.

Analysts' Forecasts and Brokerage-Firm Trading
THE ACCOUNTING REVIEW Vol. 79, No. 1 2004 pp. 125–149 Analysts’ Forecasts and
Brokerage-Firm Trading
Paul J. Irvine Emory University University of Georgia
Collectively, these results suggest that analysts can generate higher trading commissions through their positive stock recommendations than by biasing their forecasts.

WHISPERS OF MERGERS SET OFF BOUTS OF SUSPICIOUS TRADING...
August 27, 2006 NYTimes By GRETCHEN MORGENSONThe boom in corporate mergers is creating concern that illicit trading ahead of deal announcements is becoming a systemic problem.

(12-15-06) Suckers bear market rally is nothing less than a defacto fraud by the lunatic frauds on wall street to suck the suckers in; ie., as the Dow Jones industrial average up 28.76, Standard & Poor's 500 index up 1.60, and the Nasdaq composite index up 3.35, all very commissionable on heavy volume as in final pre-election result push for bush, which fell very short.  Core inflation a very unexpected unchanged .....riiiiight!.....spurs superstitious, devoid of reality, santa rally.  Investment Banks Post Record 2006 Profit .....daaaaah! Churning and earning on worthless paper, where is that commission dollar coming from even as america has ceded solvency/leadership in every economic measure. Even at the lofty record numbers the indices are worth roughly half their value based on precipitous fall of the dollar in only 5 years with further downside to go. Superstitious ‘Santa Claus rally’.....riiiiight! High oil price rally.....riiiiight!  Total  bulls**t ! Retail sales up a very unexpected 1%, riiiiight, at the same time inventories of such goods rising substantially (do you think they’re booking sales to ‘straw men/companies’.....I do!) and oil inventories down. Fake employment numbers (from the government.....riiiiight!) the impetus for previous b.s. rally despite falling sentiment and uptick in unemployment. The ism services index (financed by unsustainable deficit/debt spending and pushing/commissioning worthless paper) and jawboning/bulls**t from the housing industry (the end is near.....riiiiight!), obfuscating mergers continued to cloud the picture, closely-watched core-PCE deflator had risen a more than expected 0.2%, second sub-50 reading on manufacturing activity in as many sessions-the November ISM index unexpectedly fell to 49.5 (consensus 52.0), Chicago PMI fell to its lowest level (49.9%) in October, and below the 50 level, indicating contraction, crude prices up  (OIL PRICES RISE ABOVE $63 A BARREL...), DOLLAR RESUMES SLIDE, Fed Chairman Bernanke & Co. cheerleading/jawboning/bulls**t, 3.2% decline in new home sales, oil inventories down and oil prices up, oil producers shun the dollar, Russia and Opec shift revenues into euros, yen and sterling..., all very bad news anywhere but in the fraudulent alice-in-wonderland world of wall street. Durable goods orders fell sharply, sentiment down, but supposedly used home sales rose slightly (riiiiight.....who says; the realtors/government who have been talking up this bubble market?) albeit at sharply lower prices. DOLLAR PLUNGES TO NEAR 15-YEAR LOW  In other words, no good news to justify the ridiculous up move by the alice-in-wonderland frauds of wall street. Worthless dollar, triple deficits, stock/options scandals/corruption, as some speculate that fed is behind purchases/manipulation (through proxy) of worthless american paper now being shunned by more rational market players abroad.  MARKETS ROCKED BY LONG OVERDUE BUT STILL MODEST RELATIVE TO REALITY SHARP SLIDE IN DOLLAR...There has never been a time since 1929 when stock prices and p/e ratios were so irrationally high for this point in a bull cycle in this indisputable secular bear market, particularly with the existing unprecedented structural economic problems, ie., trade and budget deficits, worthless dollar, scandals, fraud, corruption , etc.. In fact, unemployment unexpectedly rose substantially and consumer sentiment unexpectedly but similarly realistically fell, both very negative exept in the  fraudulent alice-in-wonderland world of wall street. Indeed, the housing bubble bursting with ie., unexpected 14% decline in starts/permits, etc., led to rally in the fraudulent alice-in-wonderland world of wall street. Obfuscating mergers help preclude detection of this massive and pervasive fraud which defies analysis owing to these mergers. New talking pointing: dell numbers exceed expectations depending upon ongoing government scrutiny of their accounting practices.....riiiiight! More contrived manipulated markets and data well as that previous unexpected rise in that global hub of manufacturing activity, New York (worthless paper is their real product, etc.) …..riiiiight!….. underpins fraudulent up move. Reassuring Fed speak, also known as b**l s**t, along with IPO’s (get the suckers in at the highs as in late 90’s market bubble), and shrugging off pervasive stock/options fraud as at, ie., KB Homes, etc., leave stocks ridiculously higher. Nations leaving the worthless dollar in droves for currencies backed by value and for precious metals. Based on the self-interested statement of typical fraud american and fed rep, we hear once again the wishful thought that housing has bottomed.....right! [Reality/Truth: US housing slump deepens, spreads]. Home depot rallies despite lower than expected results and lower guidance for the year.....right! Who is stupid enough to believe anything the fraudulent criminal americans say. They are printing worthless dollars like mad. Consumer sentiment actually previously fell and there was nothing but wall street lunacy to prop the fraudulent market. The republicans who lockstepped with war criminal dumbya bush deserved to lose. The frauds on wall street now looking for the new corporate welfare program for which to sell the sizzle ie., stem cells, etc.. The know-nothing pundits are now saying the up move without any rational basis is predicated upon the the falsity that gridlock in washington is welcomed and good because no regulation of, ie., fraud on wall street, etc., can be passed. How about a tax on stock trades to come directly from the traders' (traitors/frauds) bottom lines and provide a disincentive for the churn-and-earn fraud which is tantamount to a wasteful tax on the economy. Even token Christian paulison from jew fraud wall street couldn't stem the tide against the blatent zionist/neocon/bush co failure accross the board as the wall street frauds show record profits financed, albeit indirectly, by huge deficits, both trade and budget. Obfuscating mergers blur the picture to provide cover for up move talking points in defiance of reality.  Stagflation and full employment revisions pre-election.....riiiiight. Productivity comes in at a less than expected 0 (inflationary). The only surprise should have been that the number wasn't negative. The pundits are now saying that the market/wall street fraud is in a state of denial regarding economic fundamentals and that the market is substantially overbought, overvalued, overfrauded, over, etc., the manufacturing index coming in lower than expectations. Consumer sentiment unexpectedly fell.....daaaaah. Pre-election core inflation rate report good …..riiiiight…..but savings rate still negative and walmart sales/profits/outlook substantially below expectations but what the heck, they’re wallstreet lunatics/frauds and reality is no problem. Despite pre-election deficit spending, GNP comes in a less than expected paltry 1.6% increase with worthless falling dollar the catch-22 precluding reality avoidance and the worst yet to come. More nations leaving the worthless dollar as reserve currency even as frauds on wall street reach new highs (What are they smoking? Coking? or like the dollar just cracking) based on corporate welfare flows with money the nation doesn't have pre-election (record deficits). Housing prices continue their sharp decline as bubble deflates. GM only lost 115 million. Ford lost 5.8 billion and must restate earnings back to year 2000 is a bullish sign in the fraudulent alice-in-wonderland lunatic world of wall street. Typical pre-fed meeting rally to provide a cushion for any negative pronouncements which reality would require but are seldom forthcoming by the accommodative frauds who have similarly embraced unreality. Indeed, the gutless wimps of wall street think they're "tough" when they fraudulently take the market higher despite a clearly contrary fact based reality. Caterpillar relates the pervasive reality and the frauds on wallstreet intimidate same with sell off, ignoring pervasive options scandal/fraud and rallies Merck despite lower than expectation results.....riiiiight! Election year corporate welfare to prime the pump and the mock stock market with money the nation doesn’t have (increasing already huge deficits). CPI figures (upon which government inflation adjusted payment obligations are based) lower than expected…..riiiiight! Intel earnings/revenues down sharply but according to the lunatic frauds on wall street, beat expectations and stock rallies along with yahoo which as in the pre-dot com bust days says better days are a coming….. riiiiight Core inflation rate which is closely watched by the Fed exceeds all expectations. Fraud Merrill Lynch has really been pushing and commissioning that worthless paper and reports record earnings, despite having produced nothing and for very little if any value added (that ill-gotten money has to come from somewhere-your pockets?). The big economic report awaiting scrutiny was the monthly trade deficit which was expected to narrow but in fact INCREASED to 69.9 billion. The alice-in-wonderland lunatic wall street frauds rallied on the news as the dollar precipitously fell. The Fed Chairman said there is a "substantial correction" in housing, which will probably shave about 1% off growth in the second half of the year. The Institute of Supply Management said its services index fell to 52.9 in September -- the lowest level since April 2003. Great News….. riiiiight!..... Consumer Confidence Higher Than Expected... riiiiight!..... and housing starts were down sharply but not-as-bad-as-expectations game in play US Existing Home Sales Fall 0.5% in August; Sales Price Drops Existing-home prices fall for 1st time in 11 years along with fed jaw-boning pre-election that inflation has been licked .....riiiiight …..despite printing worthless dollars like they’re going out of style because they really are! Fed did nothing and stocks rallied, pre-election.....riiiiight! What about the reality of u.s. debt service at a record unsustainable $2 billion per day on a revolving $2 trillion charge account with ie., China, etc.. The fact that foreclosures are up and that there is projected new trade deficit record, fake government inflation numbers for election year purposes, housing starts down 6% means little to the alice-in-wonderland lunatic frauds of wall street and the so-called pundits including yahoo below. Almost all computerized volume is and must be considered heavy, manipulated, economically wasteful volume [stocks move contrary to rational analytical facts (ie., exceeded lowered expectations, things so bad interest rates can’t rise, exceeded expectations, no earnings but outlook extraordinary, the fed says booo as they print more worthless dollars to finance deficits, etc. ) is money in the bank for the frauds on wall street when they unwind said irrational positions ]. Philadelphia Federal Reserve announces that its broadest measure of manufacturing activity fell to a negative reading for the first time since April 2003, leading economic indicators fall .2%, and previously fell .1% though expected to show an increase, and in addition to the larger than expected 4.1% drop in July existing home sales to its lowest level in over two years and lifted inventories to record levels , new home sales fell 4.3%, and a larger than expected 2.4% decline in July durable orders which are negatives anywhere but in the alice-in-wonderland lunatic world of wall street where same is greeted as good news as also follows with b**l s**t from Yahoo (which didn’t even reference the record unanticipated trade gap):

Investors Get More Info on Executive Pay
AP - Investors are getting access to clearer and more detailed information from public companies on their top executives' pay packages and perks under new federal rules that took effect on Friday.

Phone, Cable Companies to Battle in 2007 AP
R&D Shale Oil Extraction Leases Granted
AP
Morgan Stanley CEO Gets $40M 2006 Bonus
AP
3 Senior Execs Said to Be Leaving AOL
AP

Stock prices inflated at the open after it became known by way of the November CPI report that inflation is being contained.  Specifically, both total and core-CPI, which excludes food and energy, were unchanged last month.  The market had been expecting 0.2% increases at both levels, so there was no mistaking that the unchanged readings were good news, particularly since the year-over-year rate in core-CPI slipped to 2.6% from 2.7% as a result.  In recognition of the encouraging trend, both stock and bond prices rallied in the early-going on the idea that today's data enhanced the possibility of a rate cut from the Fed occurring sooner rather than later. The industrial production report, which showed a 0.2% increase in the month of November, didn't do anything to alter that belief as the production trend of late has fit neatly with the Fed's soft landing scenario. As one might expect, then, stocks started the day on an upbeat note drawing added support from a noticeable drop in market rates and healthy leadership from the financial, technology and industrial sectors. Earnings warnings from Black & Decker (BDK 78.26, -8.66) and Illinois Tool Works (ITW 46.80, -1.12), a continued uptick in oil prices, a lack of participation by the energy sector, and a sense that the stock market is overbought on a short-term basis, were among the limiting factors that kept the early gains in check on this quadruple witching options expiration Friday. Although the stock market maintained a position in positive territory throughout the session, it spent a good part of the day seeing the early gains get pared on profit taking efforts.  However, the outperformance of influential blue chip components like General Electric (GE 37.36, +1.15), Honeywell (HON 43.62, +0.93), Procter & Gamble (PG 64.11, +0.76), Citigroup (C 54.07, +0.96) and Cisco (CSCO 27.56, +0.25) kept selling efforts in check and the indices above the unchanged mark. At the end of the day there weren't a lot of big movers from a sector standpoint, with the exception of Energy (-1.24%) which happened to be the prior day's biggest gainer. Decliners actually outpaced advancers at the NYSE and Nasdaq, but the buying interest in large cap issues proved to be the difference that kept the indices from sporting negative signs at the closing bell.  Volume was heavier than usual which was a function of the increased trading that took place with the expiration of stock options, index options, index futures and single stock futures.DJ30 +28.76 NASDAQ +3.35 SP500 +1.60 NASDAQ Dec/Adv/Vol 1616/1456/2.16 bln NYSE Dec/Adv/Vol 1756/1491/1.72 bln

U.S. HOUSING SLUMP DEEPENS, SPREADS
BARRIE MCKENNA Washington — First, Americans quit buying homes. Now, they may have stopped fixing and furnishing them too. Home Depot Inc. reported a 3-per-cent drop in profit in the three months that ended in October, amid mounting evidence that the U.S. housing slump is getting worse. “I don't think we've seen the bottom yet, and I don't see anything that says it's going to get significantly better in 2007,” said Bob Nardelli, Home Depot's chairman and chief executive officer. Mr. Nardelli said job losses in the home construction market are the worst he's seen in 35 years, and the pain is starting to spread to the home renovation market. “The loss of jobs ... in the home construction market is at unprecedented levels,” Mr. Nardelli told analysts on a conference call Tuesday. “Home builders [are] basically writing off earnest money and liquidating land. We're starting to see a lot of that unemployment find its way over to the small repair and remodel contractors.” Problems in the housing sector have also begun to affect how consumers spend their money. In October, U.S. retail sales fell at an annual rate of 0.2 per cent — the third consecutive monthly decline, according to a U.S. Commerce Department report Tuesday. The decline was heavily influenced by lower gasoline prices, which resulted in less revenue for gas stations. But there were also sharp declines in building materials (down 0.3 per cent), furniture (down 0.7 per cent) and department store sales (down 0.7 per cent). Over the past three months, sales of building materials have plunged at an annual rate of 10.6 per cent. “The housing slowdown left its grimy fingerprints all over this report,” BMO Nesbitt Burns economist Douglas Porter said in a note to clients. Lower gasoline prices don't seem to be causing consumers to spend elsewhere, as many economists had predicted. Even if you strip out volatile gas, food and auto sales, all other retail sales rose a meagre 0.1 per cent October. “People are being very cautious,” said Ian Shepherdson, chief North American economist at High Frequency Economics. “The housing crunch is now hurting.” At least two other bellwether U.S. retailers — Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Target Corp. — reported Tuesday that their sales and profit remain strong, in spite of the problems in the housing sector. But executives at Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, acknowledged that sales in the third quarter were disappointing and it is already vowing its biggest-ever discounting binge on items such as toys and electronics to keep cash registers ringing this Christmas. “This season, no one will doubt Wal-Mart's leadership on price and value,” Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott said. Wal-Mart's profit rose to $2.65-billion (U.S.) or 63 cents a share in the third quarter that ended Oct. 31, up from $2.37-billion or 57 cents a year earlier. That was slightly below what analysts had expected, according to Reuters. Sales were up 12 per cent to $83.5-billion. But those figures include sales at newly opened stores and foreign stores. Sales at U.S. stores that have been open at least a year were up just 1.5 per cent, and Mr. Scott said fourth-quarter sales would rise just 1 to 2 per cent.

There is nothing to rationally justify the previous up move or mixed results in the market other than what is tantamount to a negative, and based upon spurious data from the government; ie., fake government numbers said total PPI rose a smaller than expected 0.1% (consensus 0.4%) in July, which was well below the 0.5% jump in June, while the more closely watched core rate (ex-food and energy) unexpectedly (RIIIIIGHT!) fell 0.3% (consensus +0.2%) -- the first decline since October and the largest drop since a 0.5% decline in April 2003. Home Sales Decline in 28 States, D.C.. Real estate prices down/stagnant. But housing stocks…..up.....riiiiight!.....in the fraudulent "alice-in-wonderland" lunatic world of wall street where down is up and up is down.  Martin Crutsinger, AP Economics Writer, previously wrote,” U.S. Trade Deficit Falls 0.3 Percent in June to $64.8B, Offsetting Jump in Chinese Imports. Dell Recall Stems From sony Production Flaw  WASHINGTON (AP) -- America's trade deficit showed a slight improvement as strong global growth pushed U.S. exports to a record level. That helped offset a surge in Chinese imports and record crude oil prices. The deficit declined 0.3 percent in June, compared with May, dropping to $64.8 billion, still the fifth largest imbalance on record, the Commerce Department reported Thursday. The deficit is running at an annual rate of $768 billion through the first six months of this year, putting the country on track to see a fifth straight record imbalance. Last year's deficit was $716.7 billion. Prior considerations remain apposite in this clearly overvalued market. The frauds on wall street feel compelled to continue their tradition/superstition/fraud tactic of buying on the rumor and selling on the news (fact) of the Fed’s temporary pause in rate hikes. You see, the facts/news do not rationally warrant holding dollar based securities/stocks but provide a means to scam the stupid money, to the benefit of the wall street frauds/scammers and smart money.  Yahoo previously commented: Friday was a wild day on Wall Street with early gains fueled by an encouraging July jobs report being wiped away as the return of concern tied to an economic slowdown outweighed the potential of a pause in tightening at Tuesday's Fed meeting. Before the bell, nonfarm payrolls rose a less than expected 113,000 and the unemployment rate rose for the first time since November, suggesting the labor market is losing steam and reinforcing the view that the economy is on track for a soft landing. To wit, fed funds futures were pricing in a 44% chance....., to which I responded, Wild..... I’ll give you wild: GM says their quarterly loss was $3.4 billion and not 3.2 billion as reported; Ford says their loss was $200 million dollars more than they previously reported and will now join gm in worker buyouts; but both GM and Ford will now offer built-in ipods which should substantially help their core business of building cars; meanwhile, options/accounting scandal/subterfuge occurring at the apple ipod (anything but computers) company. Analyst says GM good news now behind it (past/discounted), yet stock still rose upon said analysis …..riiiiight….. daaaaah! Apple Computer Inc. warned Thursday that it may have to revise its profits dating back to 2002 in a worsening stock option scandal, maybe even suspension, that has cast a harsh light on Silicon Valley's compensation practices. Don’t forget that GDP growth slowed substantially and below expectations at 2.5% which in the alice-in-wonderland lunatic world of wall street is of course good news. Stagflation? The fact is that no rational investor would choose dollar based stocks/securities when they could get less risky/liquid (approx.) 5% yielding cds, money market instruments, short-term treasuries/funds, etc.. However it’s not rational investors that are racking up commission dollars trading in and out of stocks like termites eating away at the huge capital funds which they control. Nothing constituting real value would account for the fraudulent rally mode this and other days. Highly leveraged obfuscating mergers/acquisitions, also very commissionable (investment bankers/brokers), and historically have more often than not ended quite badly; oil prices now above $63; yes, as in the last crash, they will get fooled again’ as stocks up sharply in the fraudulent alice-in-wonderland lunatic world of wall street where down is up and up is down. The stock market has never been so backward-looking. Indeed, amazingly, the pundits/analysts are even talking SEASONAL considerations in their fraud in the inducement which is the height of absurdity (such things are discounted well in advance in a rational market). The once objective, fact-oriented Barrons publication has now become a shill for the continuing fraud on wall street. Bush no conservative says Buckley (who also says that in Europe bush’s failed war policies would have required his expected resignation).....daaaaah!; neither are the hillbillies clintons and papa hillbilly bush. CNN's DOBBS BLASTS U.S. ISRAEL POLICY... BUCHANAN: 'Israel policy violates international law, is un-American and un-Christian'... The government is also catching on and playing the “better than expectations” game with the still very substantial deficit numbers, clouded by the use of social security funds used in the general fund rather than allocated for the defacto bankrupt social security system where they belong. ! Remember, leading economic indicators are down .6 percent continuing an ignored (by wall street frauds) downward trend/weakness extending back to the summer, 2005. Options scandal as was inherent in the (fraudulent) dotcom bust is extent and under way in nasdaq particularly. Spotlight on the Stock Option Scandal-The share prices of companies involved in stock options backdating have held up well compared to the broader market. But shareholders might be in for a rougher ride. Plus, why the Nasdaq has its hands full. I previously warned be very skeptical of up-coming government/corporate/collaborative/wall street data inasmuch as they are quite desperate and have proven [ie., illegal Iraq war/occupation, 911 attack(for the neocon contrived pearl harbor effect)/who ordered NORAD to stand down?/who were the pre911(within days) short-sellers?/ and the twin towers implosion, the missile that hit the pentagon precisely in the area that housed the army investigators who announced days before the opening of an investigation into a substantial pentagon fraud, etc.] that the truth is no obstacle when falsity is expedient and the lunatic frauds on wall street will try to tell you what’s up is down and what’s down is up. Lou Dobbs gets paid a lot of money to keep track of such things and doubts the verity of the government numbers. He is riiiiight! The catch-22 is that the defacto bankrupt u.s. is printing worthless paper (so much so that they’ve stopped reporting M3) and borrowing beyond sustainability, which is hyperinflationary despite false government numbers (ie., core inflation number to fraudulently decrease yield to ibond holders, etc.). Higher interest rates to prop worthless dollar and finance deficits inevitable despite wishin', hopin', and lyin’ to the contrary; foreclosures up, housing down, default notices up 67% (particularly in california, ie., orange, la, ventura, counties etc.) nationwide. Don’t forget: the equity in housing has been stripped out of real estate by way of the refinancing boom, which artificially stimulated the economic numbers while ultimately leaving buyers with debt exceeding actual property values. There is substantial downside bias in light of real economic considerations, particularly beyond the moment/trading day given that this bull (s**t) cycle in this indisputable secular bear market is over. Remember: more contrived wasteful commissions to the wall street frauds, the level and percentage of which should be examined in light of computerization and decreased costs attendant to same especially since only A Small Fraction Of What wall street Does Is A Net Positive For The Economy (New Investment Capital), The Rest Is Tantamount To A (Economically) "Wasteful Tax" (On The Economy) via 'churn and earn' computerized programmed trades.

US '.....going bankrupt'
By Edmund Conway, Economics Editor (Filed: 14/07/2006)

The United States is heading for bankruptcy, according to an extraordinary paper published by one of the key members of the country's central bank.

A ballooning budget deficit and a pensions and welfare timebomb could send the economic superpower into insolvency, according to research by Professor Laurence Kotlikoff for the Federal Reserve Bank of St Louis, a leading constituent of the US Federal Reserve.

Prof Kotlikoff said that, by some measures, the US is already bankrupt. "To paraphrase the Oxford English Dictionary, is the United States at the end of its resources, exhausted, stripped bare, destitute, bereft, wanting in property, or wrecked in consequence of failure to pay its creditors," he asked.

According to his central analysis, "the US government is, indeed, bankrupt, insofar as it will be unable to pay its creditors, who, in this context, are current and future generations to whom it has explicitly or implicitly promised future net payments of various kinds''.

The budget deficit in the US is not massive. The Bush administration this week cut its forecasts for the fiscal shortfall this year by almost a third, saying it will come in at 2.3pc of gross domestic product. This is smaller than most European countries - including the UK - which have deficits north of 3pc of GDP.

Prof Kotlikoff, who teaches at Boston University, says: "The proper way to consider a country's solvency is to examine the lifetime fiscal burdens facing current and future generations. If these burdens exceed the resources of those generations, get close to doing so, or simply get so high as to preclude their full collection, the country's policy will be unsustainable and can constitute or lead to national bankruptcy.

"Does the United States fit this bill? No one knows for sure, but there are strong reasons to believe the United States may be going broke."

Experts have calculated that the country's long-term "fiscal gap" between all future government spending and all future receipts will widen immensely as the Baby Boomer generation retires, and as the amount the state will have to spend on healthcare and pensions soars. The total fiscal gap could be an almost incomprehensible $65.9 trillion, according to a study by Professors Gokhale and Smetters.

The figure is massive because President George W Bush has made major tax cuts in recent years, and because the bill for Medicare, which provides health insurance for the elderly, and Medicaid, which does likewise for the poor, will increase greatly due to demographics.

Prof Kotlikoff said: "This figure is more than five times US GDP and almost twice the size of national wealth. One way to wrap one's head around $65.9trillion is to ask what fiscal adjustments are needed to eliminate this red hole. The answers are terrifying. One solution is an immediate and permanent doubling of personal and corporate income taxes. Another is an immediate and permanent two-thirds cut in Social Security and Medicare benefits. A third alternative, were it feasible, would be to immediately and permanently cut all federal discretionary spending by 143pc."

The scenario has serious implications for the dollar. If investors lose confidence in the US's future, and suspect the country may at some point allow inflation to erode away its debts, they may reduce their holdings of US Treasury bonds.

Prof Kotlikoff said: "The United States has experienced high rates of inflation in the past and appears to be running the same type of fiscal policies that engendered hyperinflations in 20 countries over the past century."

UPDATE - Two former NYSE traders found guilty of fraud

Stock market staggers, but investors still may be too optimistic

Commentary: Newsletters react to stock markets' losing week
By Peter Brimelow, MarketWatch  12:04 AM ET Jul 17, 2006
Investors may still be too optimistic
NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- First, a proprietary word: on Friday night, the Hulbert Stock Newsletter Sentiment Index (HSNSI), which reflects the average recommended stock market exposure among a subset of short-term market timing newsletters tracked by the Hulbert Financial Digest, stood at plus-23.8%. This was certainly below the 31.4% it showed on Tuesday night, when Mark Hulbert worried, presciently we must say, that it was too strong from a contrary opinion point of view. But it's still above its 12.6% reading at end of June, although, Mark pointed out, the stock market had declined in the interim. And since Mark wrote, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has had three triple-digit down days.

Not good.

Dow Theory Letters' Richard Russell wrote Friday morning: "If the Dow breaks support at 10,760, I think we could have some nasty action, even some crash-type action." But, perhaps significantly, Russell did not quite hit the panic button when the Dow did indeed close at 10,739 Friday night.

He simply remarked, supporting the contrary opinion view: "Three days in a row with the Dow down over 100 points each day -- you don't see that very often. But still no signs of real fear, no capitulation, no panic -- just down, down, and down. The key consideration here is that there is still no sign of big money coming into this market. In fact, the big money has been leaving this market all year. ... The longer the market continues down without a panic decline, the worse the ultimate panic will be when it arrives."

What is Wrong with the Stock Market?

Dr. Khaled Batarfi

 

John D. Rockefeller was once asked why he decided to sell all his stocks just months before the 1929 Wall Street Crash. He explained: One morning, I was on the way to my office and stopped to have my shoes polished. The guy asked my advice about the shares he bought. If people with this kind of talent were now playing the market, I knew there was something wrong.....

 

U.S. Treasury balances at Fed fell on July 17Tue Jul 18, 2006

WASHINGTON, July 18 (Reuters) - U.S. Treasury balances at the Federal Reserve, based on the Treasury Department's latest budget statement (billions of dollars, except where noted):

              July 17 July 14 (respectively)

Fed acct  4.087 4.935

Tax/loan note acct 10.502 10.155

Cash balance 14.589 15.192

National debt,

subject to limit 8,311.633 8,323.084

The statutory debt limit is $8.965 trillion.

The Treasury said there were $192 million in individual tax refunds and $23 million in corporate tax refunds issued.

End Of The Bubble Bailouts A. Gary Shilling, Insight 08.29.06 - For a quarter-century, Americans’ spending binge has been fueled by a declining savings rate and increased borrowing. The savings rate of American consumers has fallen from 12% in the early 1980s to -1.7% today (see chart below). This means that, on average, consumer spending has risen about a half percentage point more than disposable, or after-tax, income per year for a quarter-century.

The fact that Americans are saving less and less of their after-tax income is only half the profligate consumer story. If someone borrows to buy a car, his savings rate declines because his outlays go up but his disposable income doesn’t. So the downward march in the personal savings rate is closely linked to the upward march in total consumer debt (mortgage, credit card, auto, etc.) in relation to disposable income (see chart below).

Robust consumer spending was fueled first by the soaring stock market of the 1990s and, more recently, by the housing bubble, as house prices departed from their normal close link to the Consumer Price Index (see chart below) and subsequently racked up huge appreciation for homeowners, who continued to save less and spend more. Thanks to accommodative lenders eager to provide refinancings and home equity loans, Americans extracted $719 billion in cash from their houses last year after a $633 billion withdrawal in 2004, according to the Federal Reserve.

But the housing bubble is deflating rapidly. I expect at least a 20% decline in median single-family house prices nationwide, and that number may be way understated. A bursting of the bubble would force many homeowners to curb their outlays in order to close the gaps between their income and spending growth. That would surely precipitate a major recession that would become global, given the dependence of most foreign countries on U.S. consumers to buy the excess goods and services for which they have no other markets.

That is, unless another source of money can bridge the gap between consumer incomes and outlays, just as house appreciation seamlessly took over when stocks nosedived. What could that big new source of money be? And would it be available soon, given the likelihood that house prices will swoon in coming quarters?

One possible source of big, although not immediate, money to sustain consumer spending is inheritance. Some estimates in the 1990s had the postwar babies, who have saved little for their retirement, inheriting between $10 trillion and $41 trillion from their parents in the coming decades. But subsequent work by AARP, using the Federal Reserve’s Survey of Consumer Finances for 2004 and previous years, slashed the total for inheritances of all people alive today to $12 trillion in 2005 dollars. Most of it, $9.2 trillion, will go to pre-boomers born before 1946, only $2.1 trillion to the postwar babies born between 1946 and 1964, and $0.7 trillion to the post-boomers.

Furthermore, the value of all previous inheritances as reported in the 2004 survey was $49,902 on average, with $70,317 for pre-boomers, $48,768 for boomers and $24,348 for post-boomers. Clearly, these are not numbers that provide for comfortable retirements and, therefore, allow people to continue to spend like drunken sailors.

What other assets could consumers borrow against or liquidate to support spending growth in the future? After all, they do have a lot of net worth, almost $54 trillion for households and nonprofit organizations as of the end of the first quarter. Nevertheless, there aren’t any other big assets left to tap. Another big stock bonanza is unlikely for decades, and the real estate bubble is deflating.

Deposits total $6.3 trillion, but the majority, $4.9 trillion worth, is in time and savings deposits, largely held for retirement by financially conservative people. Is it likely that a speculator who owns five houses has sizable time deposits to fall back on? Households and nonprofits hold $3.2 trillion in bonds and other credit market instruments, but most owned by individuals are in conservative hands. Life insurance reserves can be borrowed, but their total size, $1.1 trillion, pales in comparison to the $1.8 trillion that homeowners extracted from their houses in the 2003-2005 years. There’s $6.7 trillion of equity in noncorporate business, but the vast majority of that is needed by typically cash-poor small businesses to keep their doors open.

Pension funds might be a source of cash for consumers who want to live it up now and take the Scarlett O’Hara, “I’ll worry about that tomorrow” attitude toward retirement. They totaled $11.1 trillion in the first quarter, but that number includes public funds and private defined benefit plans that are seldom available to pre-retirees unless they leave their jobs.

The private defined contribution plans, typically 401(k)s, totaled $2.5 trillion in 2004 and have been growing rapidly because employers favor them. But sadly, many employees, especially those at lower income levels, don’t share their bosses’ zeal. Only about 70% participate in their company 401(k) plans and thereby take advantage of company contributions. Lower paid employees are especially absent from participation, with 40% of those making less than $20,000 contributing (60% of those earning $20,000 to $40,000), while 90% of employees earning $100,000 or more participate.

Furthermore, the amount that employees could net from withdrawals from defined contribution plans would be far less than the $2.5 trillion total, probably less than the $1.8 trillion they pulled out of their houses from 2003 to 2005. That $2.5 trillion total includes company contributions that are not yet vested and can’t be withdrawn. Also, withdrawals by those under 59½ years old are subject to a 10% penalty, with income taxes due on the remainder.

With soaring stock portfolios now ancient history and leaping house prices about to be, no other sources, such as inheritance or pension fund withdrawals, are likely to fill the gap between robust consumer spending and weak income growth. Consumer retrenchment and the saving spree I’ve been expecting may finally be about to commence. And the effects on consumer behavior, especially on borrowing and discretionary spending, will be broad and deep.

Analysts' Forecasts and Brokerage-Firm Trading
THE ACCOUNTING REVIEW Vol. 79, No. 1 2004 pp. 125–149 Analysts’ Forecasts and
Brokerage-Firm Trading
Paul J. Irvine Emory University University of Georgia
Collectively, these results suggest that analysts can generate higher trading commissions through their positive stock recommendations than by biasing their forecasts.

WHISPERS OF MERGERS SET OFF BOUTS OF SUSPICIOUS TRADING...
August 27, 2006 NYTimes By GRETCHEN MORGENSONThe boom in corporate mergers is creating concern that illicit trading ahead of deal announcements is becoming a systemic problem.

(12-14-06) Suckers bear market rally is nothing less than a defacto fraud by the lunatic frauds on wall street to suck the suckers in; ie., as the Dow Jones industrial average up 99, Standard & Poor's 500 index up 12, and the Nasdaq composite index up 21, all very commissionable on heavy volume as in final pre-election result push for bush, which fell very short. Investment Banks Post Record 2006 Profit .....daaaaah! Churning and earning on worthless paper, where is that commission dollar coming from even as america has ceded solvency/leadership in every economic measure. Even at the lofty record numbers the indices are worth roughly half their value based on precipitous fall of the dollar in only 5 years with further downside to go. Superstitious ‘Santa Claus rally’.....riiiiight! High oil price rally.....riiiiight!  Total  bulls**t ! Retail sales up a very unexpected 1%, riiiiight, at the same time inventories of such goods rising substantially (do you think they’re booking sales to ‘straw men/companies’.....I do!) and oil inventories down. Fake employment numbers (from the government.....riiiiight!) the impetus for previous b.s. rally despite falling sentiment and uptick in unemployment. The ism services index (financed by unsustainable deficit/debt spending and pushing/commissioning worthless paper) and jawboning/bulls**t from the housing industry (the end is near.....riiiiight!), obfuscating mergers continued to cloud the picture, closely-watched core-PCE deflator had risen a more than expected 0.2%, second sub-50 reading on manufacturing activity in as many sessions-the November ISM index unexpectedly fell to 49.5 (consensus 52.0), Chicago PMI fell to its lowest level (49.9%) in October, and below the 50 level, indicating contraction, crude prices up  (OIL PRICES RISE ABOVE $63 A BARREL...), DOLLAR RESUMES SLIDE, Fed Chairman Bernanke & Co. cheerleading/jawboning/bulls**t, 3.2% decline in new home sales, oil inventories down and oil prices up, oil producers shun the dollar, Russia and Opec shift revenues into euros, yen and sterling..., all very bad news anywhere but in the fraudulent alice-in-wonderland world of wall street. Durable goods orders fell sharply, sentiment down, but supposedly used home sales rose slightly (riiiiight.....who says; the realtors/government who have been talking up this bubble market?) albeit at sharply lower prices. DOLLAR PLUNGES TO NEAR 15-YEAR LOW  In other words, no good news to justify the ridiculous up move by the alice-in-wonderland frauds of wall street. Worthless dollar, triple deficits, stock/options scandals/corruption, as some speculate that fed is behind purchases/manipulation (through proxy) of worthless american paper now being shunned by more rational market players abroad.  MARKETS ROCKED BY LONG OVERDUE BUT STILL MODEST RELATIVE TO REALITY SHARP SLIDE IN DOLLAR...There has never been a time since 1929 when stock prices and p/e ratios were so irrationally high for this point in a bull cycle in this indisputable secular bear market, particularly with the existing unprecedented structural economic problems, ie., trade and budget deficits, worthless dollar, scandals, fraud, corruption , etc.. In fact, unemployment unexpectedly rose substantially and consumer sentiment unexpectedly but similarly realistically fell, both very negative exept in the  fraudulent alice-in-wonderland world of wall street. Indeed, the housing bubble bursting with ie., unexpected 14% decline in starts/permits, etc., led to rally in the fraudulent alice-in-wonderland world of wall street. Obfuscating mergers help preclude detection of this massive and pervasive fraud which defies analysis owing to these mergers. New talking pointing: dell numbers exceed expectations depending upon ongoing government scrutiny of their accounting practices.....riiiiight! More contrived manipulated markets and data well as that previous unexpected rise in that global hub of manufacturing activity, New York (worthless paper is their real product, etc.) …..riiiiight!….. underpins fraudulent up move. Reassuring Fed speak, also known as b**l s**t, along with IPO’s (get the suckers in at the highs as in late 90’s market bubble), and shrugging off pervasive stock/options fraud as at, ie., KB Homes, etc., leave stocks ridiculously higher. Nations leaving the worthless dollar in droves for currencies backed by value and for precious metals. Based on the self-interested statement of typical fraud american and fed rep, we hear once again the wishful thought that housing has bottomed.....right! [Reality/Truth: US housing slump deepens, spreads]. Home depot rallies despite lower than expected results and lower guidance for the year.....right! Who is stupid enough to believe anything the fraudulent criminal americans say. They are printing worthless dollars like mad. Consumer sentiment actually previously fell and there was nothing but wall street lunacy to prop the fraudulent market. The republicans who lockstepped with war criminal dumbya bush deserved to lose. The frauds on wall street now looking for the new corporate welfare program for which to sell the sizzle ie., stem cells, etc.. The know-nothing pundits are now saying the up move without any rational basis is predicated upon the the falsity that gridlock in washington is welcomed and good because no regulation of, ie., fraud on wall street, etc., can be passed. How about a tax on stock trades to come directly from the traders' (traitors/frauds) bottom lines and provide a disincentive for the churn-and-earn fraud which is tantamount to a wasteful tax on the economy. Even token Christian paulison from jew fraud wall street couldn't stem the tide against the blatent zionist/neocon/bush co failure accross the board as the wall street frauds show record profits financed, albeit indirectly, by huge deficits, both trade and budget. Obfuscating mergers blur the picture to provide cover for up move talking points in defiance of reality.  Stagflation and full employment revisions pre-election.....riiiiight. Productivity comes in at a less than expected 0 (inflationary). The only surprise should have been that the number wasn't negative. The pundits are now saying that the market/wall street fraud is in a state of denial regarding economic fundamentals and that the market is substantially overbought, overvalued, overfrauded, over, etc., the manufacturing index coming in lower than expectations. Consumer sentiment unexpectedly fell.....daaaaah. Pre-election core inflation rate report good …..riiiiight…..but savings rate still negative and walmart sales/profits/outlook substantially below expectations but what the heck, they’re wallstreet lunatics/frauds and reality is no problem. Despite pre-election deficit spending, GNP comes in a less than expected paltry 1.6% increase with worthless falling dollar the catch-22 precluding reality avoidance and the worst yet to come. More nations leaving the worthless dollar as reserve currency even as frauds on wall street reach new highs (What are they smoking? Coking? or like the dollar just cracking) based on corporate welfare flows with money the nation doesn't have pre-election (record deficits). Housing prices continue their sharp decline as bubble deflates. GM only lost 115 million. Ford lost 5.8 billion and must restate earnings back to year 2000 is a bullish sign in the fraudulent alice-in-wonderland lunatic world of wall street. Typical pre-fed meeting rally to provide a cushion for any negative pronouncements which reality would require but are seldom forthcoming by the accommodative frauds who have similarly embraced unreality. Indeed, the gutless wimps of wall street think they're "tough" when they fraudulently take the market higher despite a clearly contrary fact based reality. Caterpillar relates the pervasive reality and the frauds on wallstreet intimidate same with sell off, ignoring pervasive options scandal/fraud and rallies Merck despite lower than expectation results.....riiiiight! Election year corporate welfare to prime the pump and the mock stock market with money the nation doesn’t have (increasing already huge deficits). CPI figures (upon which government inflation adjusted payment obligations are based) lower than expected…..riiiiight! Intel earnings/revenues down sharply but according to the lunatic frauds on wall street, beat expectations and stock rallies along with yahoo which as in the pre-dot com bust days says better days are a coming….. riiiiight Core inflation rate which is closely watched by the Fed exceeds all expectations. Fraud Merrill Lynch has really been pushing and commissioning that worthless paper and reports record earnings, despite having produced nothing and for very little if any value added (that ill-gotten money has to come from somewhere-your pockets?). The big economic report awaiting scrutiny was the monthly trade deficit which was expected to narrow but in fact INCREASED to 69.9 billion. The alice-in-wonderland lunatic wall street frauds rallied on the news as the dollar precipitously fell. The Fed Chairman said there is a "substantial correction" in housing, which will probably shave about 1% off growth in the second half of the year. The Institute of Supply Management said its services index fell to 52.9 in September -- the lowest level since April 2003. Great News….. riiiiight!..... Consumer Confidence Higher Than Expected... riiiiight!..... and housing starts were down sharply but not-as-bad-as-expectations game in play US Existing Home Sales Fall 0.5% in August; Sales Price Drops Existing-home prices fall for 1st time in 11 years along with fed jaw-boning pre-election that inflation has been licked .....riiiiight …..despite printing worthless dollars like they’re going out of style because they really are! Fed did nothing and stocks rallied, pre-election.....riiiiight! What about the reality of u.s. debt service at a record unsustainable $2 billion per day on a revolving $2 trillion charge account with ie., China, etc.. The fact that foreclosures are up and that there is projected new trade deficit record, fake government inflation numbers for election year purposes, housing starts down 6% means little to the alice-in-wonderland lunatic frauds of wall street and the so-called pundits including yahoo below. Almost all computerized volume is and must be considered heavy, manipulated, economically wasteful volume [stocks move contrary to rational analytical facts (ie., exceeded lowered expectations, things so bad interest rates can’t rise, exceeded expectations, no earnings but outlook extraordinary, the fed says booo as they print more worthless dollars to finance deficits, etc. ) is money in the bank for the frauds on wall street when they unwind said irrational positions ]. Philadelphia Federal Reserve announces that its broadest measure of manufacturing activity fell to a negative reading for the first time since April 2003, leading economic indicators fall .2%, and previously fell .1% though expected to show an increase, and in addition to the larger than expected 4.1% drop in July existing home sales to its lowest level in over two years and lifted inventories to record levels , new home sales fell 4.3%, and a larger than expected 2.4% decline in July durable orders which are negatives anywhere but in the alice-in-wonderland lunatic world of wall street where same is greeted as good news as also follows with b**l s**t from Yahoo (which didn’t even reference the record unanticipated trade gap):

Investment Banks Post Record 2006 Profit
AP - Wall Street on Thursday when announcing 2006 results -- the word "record" appears a combined 37 times in their earnings reports.
Immigration Raids May Affect Meat Prices
AP
Engineer Indicted for Alleged Espionage
AP
Adobe Systems Faces Challenging New Year
AP
Reports of Produce Outbreaks on the Rise
AP

A market that was looking tired yesterday looked as if it had a caffeine fix today for there was no shortage of buying interest. Catalysts for the advance were plentiful and they touched on both technical and fundamental developments.  Specifically, buyers were called back into action by a batch of reassuring earnings news, better than expected economic data, and the S&P's ability to clear resistance at the 1420 level. The momentum factor isn't to be dismissed either as the surprising show of strength undoubtedly prompted some short-covering activity and attracted sidelined money that feared missing out on any year-end rally effort. The end result is that the Dow established a new record high while the S&P 500 climbed to a 6-year high on the back of broad-based participation that saw all ten economic sectors finish with a gain. The energy sector (+1.81%) was the pacesetter, rallying in the wake of a controversial decision by OPEC to cut production by another 500K barrels per day starting Feb. 1.  That news, and a report of a larger than expected drawdown in natural gas inventories, lit a match under crude prices which advanced $1.18 to $63.35 per barrel. Airlines, as one might expect, hit an air pocket on the move in crude prices and were among a short list of industry laggards that included wireless services, coal & consumable fuel, and steel.  The latter group got clipped on news that the ITC agreed to eliminate duties on steel imports from Australia, Canada, France and Japan. The bump in oil prices, though, did little to dissuade market bulls who cheered an affirmation of earnings guidance from several Dow components, including Procter & Gamble (PG 63.35, -0.05) and Honeywell (HON 42.69, +0.83), and solid earnings reports from Bear Stearns (BSC 159.96, +4.07), Lehman Bros. (LEH 76.08, -0.29), Ciena (CIEN 27.83, +2.87) and Costco (COST 54.11, +0.97). Outside of energy, other sector standouts included technology (+1.06%), which was powered by Adv. Micro Devices (AMD 22.71, +2.54) and a hot semiconductor group, and consumer discretionary (+1.09%), which rode the coattails of a strong showing from the retailers. On the economic front, weekly initial claims were lower than expected at 304K (consensus 320K) while the Empire State Index rose to a stronger than expected level of 23.1 (consensus 18.0) that helped assuage some concerns about the slowdown in the manufacturing sector that were piqued when the national ISM Index slipped below 50.0.  The Empire index wasn't due out until tomorrow, but it was released early after being inadvertently posted to the New York Fed's website.DJ30 +99.26 NASDAQ +21.44 SOX +1.90% SP500 +12.28 NASDAQ Dec/Adv/Vol 1246/1815/1.84 bln NYSE Dec/Adv/Vol 1152/2157/1.43 bln

U.S. HOUSING SLUMP DEEPENS, SPREADS
BARRIE MCKENNA Washington — First, Americans quit buying homes. Now, they may have stopped fixing and furnishing them too. Home Depot Inc. reported a 3-per-cent drop in profit in the three months that ended in October, amid mounting evidence that the U.S. housing slump is getting worse. “I don't think we've seen the bottom yet, and I don't see anything that says it's going to get significantly better in 2007,” said Bob Nardelli, Home Depot's chairman and chief executive officer. Mr. Nardelli said job losses in the home construction market are the worst he's seen in 35 years, and the pain is starting to spread to the home renovation market. “The loss of jobs ... in the home construction market is at unprecedented levels,” Mr. Nardelli told analysts on a conference call Tuesday. “Home builders [are] basically writing off earnest money and liquidating land. We're starting to see a lot of that unemployment find its way over to the small repair and remodel contractors.” Problems in the housing sector have also begun to affect how consumers spend their money. In October, U.S. retail sales fell at an annual rate of 0.2 per cent — the third consecutive monthly decline, according to a U.S. Commerce Department report Tuesday. The decline was heavily influenced by lower gasoline prices, which resulted in less revenue for gas stations. But there were also sharp declines in building materials (down 0.3 per cent), furniture (down 0.7 per cent) and department store sales (down 0.7 per cent). Over the past three months, sales of building materials have plunged at an annual rate of 10.6 per cent. “The housing slowdown left its grimy fingerprints all over this report,” BMO Nesbitt Burns economist Douglas Porter said in a note to clients. Lower gasoline prices don't seem to be causing consumers to spend elsewhere, as many economists had predicted. Even if you strip out volatile gas, food and auto sales, all other retail sales rose a meagre 0.1 per cent October. “People are being very cautious,” said Ian Shepherdson, chief North American economist at High Frequency Economics. “The housing crunch is now hurting.” At least two other bellwether U.S. retailers — Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Target Corp. — reported Tuesday that their sales and profit remain strong, in spite of the problems in the housing sector. But executives at Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, acknowledged that sales in the third quarter were disappointing and it is already vowing its biggest-ever discounting binge on items such as toys and electronics to keep cash registers ringing this Christmas. “This season, no one will doubt Wal-Mart's leadership on price and value,” Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott said. Wal-Mart's profit rose to $2.65-billion (U.S.) or 63 cents a share in the third quarter that ended Oct. 31, up from $2.37-billion or 57 cents a year earlier. That was slightly below what analysts had expected, according to Reuters. Sales were up 12 per cent to $83.5-billion. But those figures include sales at newly opened stores and foreign stores. Sales at U.S. stores that have been open at least a year were up just 1.5 per cent, and Mr. Scott said fourth-quarter sales would rise just 1 to 2 per cent.

There is nothing to rationally justify the previous up move or mixed results in the market other than what is tantamount to a negative, and based upon spurious data from the government; ie., fake government numbers said total PPI rose a smaller than expected 0.1% (consensus 0.4%) in July, which was well below the 0.5% jump in June, while the more closely watched core rate (ex-food and energy) unexpectedly (RIIIIIGHT!) fell 0.3% (consensus +0.2%) -- the first decline since October and the largest drop since a 0.5% decline in April 2003. Home Sales Decline in 28 States, D.C.. Real estate prices down/stagnant. But housing stocks…..up.....riiiiight!.....in the fraudulent "alice-in-wonderland" lunatic world of wall street where down is up and up is down.  Martin Crutsinger, AP Economics Writer, previously wrote,” U.S. Trade Deficit Falls 0.3 Percent in June to $64.8B, Offsetting Jump in Chinese Imports. Dell Recall Stems From sony Production Flaw  WASHINGTON (AP) -- America's trade deficit showed a slight improvement as strong global growth pushed U.S. exports to a record level. That helped offset a surge in Chinese imports and record crude oil prices. The deficit declined 0.3 percent in June, compared with May, dropping to $64.8 billion, still the fifth largest imbalance on record, the Commerce Department reported Thursday. The deficit is running at an annual rate of $768 billion through the first six months of this year, putting the country on track to see a fifth straight record imbalance. Last year's deficit was $716.7 billion. Prior considerations remain apposite in this clearly overvalued market. The frauds on wall street feel compelled to continue their tradition/superstition/fraud tactic of buying on the rumor and selling on the news (fact) of the Fed’s temporary pause in rate hikes. You see, the facts/news do not rationally warrant holding dollar based securities/stocks but provide a means to scam the stupid money, to the benefit of the wall street frauds/scammers and smart money.  Yahoo previously commented: Friday was a wild day on Wall Street with early gains fueled by an encouraging July jobs report being wiped away as the return of concern tied to an economic slowdown outweighed the potential of a pause in tightening at Tuesday's Fed meeting. Before the bell, nonfarm payrolls rose a less than expected 113,000 and the unemployment rate rose for the first time since November, suggesting the labor market is losing steam and reinforcing the view that the economy is on track for a soft landing. To wit, fed funds futures were pricing in a 44% chance....., to which I responded, Wild..... I’ll give you wild: GM says their quarterly loss was $3.4 billion and not 3.2 billion as reported; Ford says their loss was $200 million dollars more than they previously reported and will now join gm in worker buyouts; but both GM and Ford will now offer built-in ipods which should substantially help their core business of building cars; meanwhile, options/accounting scandal/subterfuge occurring at the apple ipod (anything but computers) company. Analyst says GM good news now behind it (past/discounted), yet stock still rose upon said analysis …..riiiiight….. daaaaah! Apple Computer Inc. warned Thursday that it may have to revise its profits dating back to 2002 in a worsening stock option scandal, maybe even suspension, that has cast a harsh light on Silicon Valley's compensation practices. Don’t forget that GDP growth slowed substantially and below expectations at 2.5% which in the alice-in-wonderland lunatic world of wall street is of course good news. Stagflation? The fact is that no rational investor would choose dollar based stocks/securities when they could get less risky/liquid (approx.) 5% yielding cds, money market instruments, short-term treasuries/funds, etc.. However it’s not rational investors that are racking up commission dollars trading in and out of stocks like termites eating away at the huge capital funds which they control. Nothing constituting real value would account for the fraudulent rally mode this and other days. Highly leveraged obfuscating mergers/acquisitions, also very commissionable (investment bankers/brokers), and historically have more often than not ended quite badly; oil prices now above $62; yes, as in the last crash, they will get fooled again’ as stocks up sharply in the fraudulent alice-in-wonderland lunatic world of wall street where down is up and up is down. The stock market has never been so backward-looking. Indeed, amazingly, the pundits/analysts are even talking SEASONAL considerations in their fraud in the inducement which is the height of absurdity (such things are discounted well in advance in a rational market). The once objective, fact-oriented Barrons publication has now become a shill for the continuing fraud on wall street. Bush no conservative says Buckley (who also says that in Europe bush’s failed war policies would have required his expected resignation).....daaaaah!; neither are the hillbillies clintons and papa hillbilly bush. CNN's DOBBS BLASTS U.S. ISRAEL POLICY... BUCHANAN: 'Israel policy violates international law, is un-American and un-Christian'... The government is also catching on and playing the “better than expectations” game with the still very substantial deficit numbers, clouded by the use of social security funds used in the general fund rather than allocated for the defacto bankrupt social security system where they belong. ! Remember, leading economic indicators are down .6 percent continuing an ignored (by wall street frauds) downward trend/weakness extending back to the summer, 2005. Options scandal as was inherent in the (fraudulent) dotcom bust is extent and under way in nasdaq particularly. Spotlight on the Stock Option Scandal-The share prices of companies involved in stock options backdating have held up well compared to the broader market. But shareholders might be in for a rougher ride. Plus, why the Nasdaq has its hands full. I previously warned be very skeptical of up-coming government/corporate/collaborative/wall street data inasmuch as they are quite desperate and have proven [ie., illegal Iraq war/occupation, 911 attack(for the neocon contrived pearl harbor effect)/who ordered NORAD to stand down?/who were the pre911(within days) short-sellers?/ and the twin towers implosion, the missile that hit the pentagon precisely in the area that housed the army investigators who announced days before the opening of an investigation into a substantial pentagon fraud, etc.] that the truth is no obstacle when falsity is expedient and the lunatic frauds on wall street will try to tell you what’s up is down and what’s down is up. Lou Dobbs gets paid a lot of money to keep track of such things and doubts the verity of the government numbers. He is riiiiight! The catch-22 is that the defacto bankrupt u.s. is printing worthless paper (so much so that they’ve stopped reporting M3) and borrowing beyond sustainability, which is hyperinflationary despite false government numbers (ie., core inflation number to fraudulently decrease yield to ibond holders, etc.). Higher interest rates to prop worthless dollar and finance deficits inevitable despite wishin', hopin', and lyin’ to the contrary; foreclosures up, housing down, default notices up 67% (particularly in california, ie., orange, la, ventura, counties etc.) nationwide. Don’t forget: the equity in housing has been stripped out of real estate by way of the refinancing boom, which artificially stimulated the economic numbers while ultimately leaving buyers with debt exceeding actual property values. There is substantial downside bias in light of real economic considerations, particularly beyond the moment/trading day given that this bull (s**t) cycle in this indisputable secular bear market is over. Remember: more contrived wasteful commissions to the wall street frauds, the level and percentage of which should be examined in light of computerization and decreased costs attendant to same especially since only A Small Fraction Of What wall street Does Is A Net Positive For The Economy (New Investment Capital), The Rest Is Tantamount To A (Economically) "Wasteful Tax" (On The Economy) via 'churn and earn' computerized programmed trades.

US '.....going bankrupt'
By Edmund Conway, Economics Editor (Filed: 14/07/2006)

The United States is heading for bankruptcy, according to an extraordinary paper published by one of the key members of the country's central bank.

A ballooning budget deficit and a pensions and welfare timebomb could send the economic superpower into insolvency, according to research by Professor Laurence Kotlikoff for the Federal Reserve Bank of St Louis, a leading constituent of the US Federal Reserve.

Prof Kotlikoff said that, by some measures, the US is already bankrupt. "To paraphrase the Oxford English Dictionary, is the United States at the end of its resources, exhausted, stripped bare, destitute, bereft, wanting in property, or wrecked in consequence of failure to pay its creditors," he asked.

According to his central analysis, "the US government is, indeed, bankrupt, insofar as it will be unable to pay its creditors, who, in this context, are current and future generations to whom it has explicitly or implicitly promised future net payments of various kinds''.

The budget deficit in the US is not massive. The Bush administration this week cut its forecasts for the fiscal shortfall this year by almost a third, saying it will come in at 2.3pc of gross domestic product. This is smaller than most European countries - including the UK - which have deficits north of 3pc of GDP.

Prof Kotlikoff, who teaches at Boston University, says: "The proper way to consider a country's solvency is to examine the lifetime fiscal burdens facing current and future generations. If these burdens exceed the resources of those generations, get close to doing so, or simply get so high as to preclude their full collection, the country's policy will be unsustainable and can constitute or lead to national bankruptcy.

"Does the United States fit this bill? No one knows for sure, but there are strong reasons to believe the United States may be going broke."

Experts have calculated that the country's long-term "fiscal gap" between all future government spending and all future receipts will widen immensely as the Baby Boomer generation retires, and as the amount the state will have to spend on healthcare and pensions soars. The total fiscal gap could be an almost incomprehensible $65.9 trillion, according to a study by Professors Gokhale and Smetters.

The figure is massive because President George W Bush has made major tax cuts in recent years, and because the bill for Medicare, which provides health insurance for the elderly, and Medicaid, which does likewise for the poor, will increase greatly due to demographics.

Prof Kotlikoff said: "This figure is more than five times US GDP and almost twice the size of national wealth. One way to wrap one's head around $65.9trillion is to ask what fiscal adjustments are needed to eliminate this red hole. The answers are terrifying. One solution is an immediate and permanent doubling of personal and corporate income taxes. Another is an immediate and permanent two-thirds cut in Social Security and Medicare benefits. A third alternative, were it feasible, would be to immediately and permanently cut all federal discretionary spending by 143pc."

The scenario has serious implications for the dollar. If investors lose confidence in the US's future, and suspect the country may at some point allow inflation to erode away its debts, they may reduce their holdings of US Treasury bonds.

Prof Kotlikoff said: "The United States has experienced high rates of inflation in the past and appears to be running the same type of fiscal policies that engendered hyperinflations in 20 countries over the past century."

UPDATE - Two former NYSE traders found guilty of fraud

Stock market staggers, but investors still may be too optimistic

Commentary: Newsletters react to stock markets' losing week
By Peter Brimelow, MarketWatch  12:04 AM ET Jul 17, 2006
Investors may still be too optimistic
NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- First, a proprietary word: on Friday night, the Hulbert Stock Newsletter Sentiment Index (HSNSI), which reflects the average recommended stock market exposure among a subset of short-term market timing newsletters tracked by the Hulbert Financial Digest, stood at plus-23.8%. This was certainly below the 31.4% it showed on Tuesday night, when Mark Hulbert worried, presciently we must say, that it was too strong from a contrary opinion point of view. But it's still above its 12.6% reading at end of June, although, Mark pointed out, the stock market had declined in the interim. And since Mark wrote, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has had three triple-digit down days.

Not good.

Dow Theory Letters' Richard Russell wrote Friday morning: "If the Dow breaks support at 10,760, I think we could have some nasty action, even some crash-type action." But, perhaps significantly, Russell did not quite hit the panic button when the Dow did indeed close at 10,739 Friday night.

He simply remarked, supporting the contrary opinion view: "Three days in a row with the Dow down over 100 points each day -- you don't see that very often. But still no signs of real fear, no capitulation, no panic -- just down, down, and down. The key consideration here is that there is still no sign of big money coming into this market. In fact, the big money has been leaving this market all year. ... The longer the market continues down without a panic decline, the worse the ultimate panic will be when it arrives."

What is Wrong with the Stock Market?

Dr. Khaled Batarfi

 

John D. Rockefeller was once asked why he decided to sell all his stocks just months before the 1929 Wall Street Crash. He explained: One morning, I was on the way to my office and stopped to have my shoes polished. The guy asked my advice about the shares he bought. If people with this kind of talent were now playing the market, I knew there was something wrong.....

 

U.S. Treasury balances at Fed fell on July 17Tue Jul 18, 2006

WASHINGTON, July 18 (Reuters) - U.S. Treasury balances at the Federal Reserve, based on the Treasury Department's latest budget statement (billions of dollars, except where noted):

              July 17 July 14 (respectively)

Fed acct  4.087 4.935

Tax/loan note acct 10.502 10.155

Cash balance 14.589 15.192

National debt,

subject to limit 8,311.633 8,323.084

The statutory debt limit is $8.965 trillion.

The Treasury said there were $192 million in individual tax refunds and $23 million in corporate tax refunds issued.

End Of The Bubble Bailouts A. Gary Shilling, Insight 08.29.06 - For a quarter-century, Americans’ spending binge has been fueled by a declining savings rate and increased borrowing. The savings rate of American consumers has fallen from 12% in the early 1980s to -1.7% today (see chart below). This means that, on average, consumer spending has risen about a half percentage point more than disposable, or after-tax, income per year for a quarter-century.

The fact that Americans are saving less and less of their after-tax income is only half the profligate consumer story. If someone borrows to buy a car, his savings rate declines because his outlays go up but his disposable income doesn’t. So the downward march in the personal savings rate is closely linked to the upward march in total consumer debt (mortgage, credit card, auto, etc.) in relation to disposable income (see chart below).

Robust consumer spending was fueled first by the soaring stock market of the 1990s and, more recently, by the housing bubble, as house prices departed from their normal close link to the Consumer Price Index (see chart below) and subsequently racked up huge appreciation for homeowners, who continued to save less and spend more. Thanks to accommodative lenders eager to provide refinancings and home equity loans, Americans extracted $719 billion in cash from their houses last year after a $633 billion withdrawal in 2004, according to the Federal Reserve.

But the housing bubble is deflating rapidly. I expect at least a 20% decline in median single-family house prices nationwide, and that number may be way understated. A bursting of the bubble would force many homeowners to curb their outlays in order to close the gaps between their income and spending growth. That would surely precipitate a major recession that would become global, given the dependence of most foreign countries on U.S. consumers to buy the excess goods and services for which they have no other markets.

That is, unless another source of money can bridge the gap between consumer incomes and outlays, just as house appreciation seamlessly took over when stocks nosedived. What could that big new source of money be? And would it be available soon, given the likelihood that house prices will swoon in coming quarters?

One possible source of big, although not immediate, money to sustain consumer spending is inheritance. Some estimates in the 1990s had the postwar babies, who have saved little for their retirement, inheriting between $10 trillion and $41 trillion from their parents in the coming decades. But subsequent work by AARP, using the Federal Reserve’s Survey of Consumer Finances for 2004 and previous years, slashed the total for inheritances of all people alive today to $12 trillion in 2005 dollars. Most of it, $9.2 trillion, will go to pre-boomers born before 1946, only $2.1 trillion to the postwar babies born between 1946 and 1964, and $0.7 trillion to the post-boomers.

Furthermore, the value of all previous inheritances as reported in the 2004 survey was $49,902 on average, with $70,317 for pre-boomers, $48,768 for boomers and $24,348 for post-boomers. Clearly, these are not numbers that provide for comfortable retirements and, therefore, allow people to continue to spend like drunken sailors.

What other assets could consumers borrow against or liquidate to support spending growth in the future? After all, they do have a lot of net worth, almost $54 trillion for households and nonprofit organizations as of the end of the first quarter. Nevertheless, there aren’t any other big assets left to tap. Another big stock bonanza is unlikely for decades, and the real estate bubble is deflating.

Deposits total $6.3 trillion, but the majority, $4.9 trillion worth, is in time and savings deposits, largely held for retirement by financially conservative people. Is it likely that a speculator who owns five houses has sizable time deposits to fall back on? Households and nonprofits hold $3.2 trillion in bonds and other credit market instruments, but most owned by individuals are in conservative hands. Life insurance reserves can be borrowed, but their total size, $1.1 trillion, pales in comparison to the $1.8 trillion that homeowners extracted from their houses in the 2003-2005 years. There’s $6.7 trillion of equity in noncorporate business, but the vast majority of that is needed by typically cash-poor small businesses to keep their doors open.

Pension funds might be a source of cash for consumers who want to live it up now and take the Scarlett O’Hara, “I’ll worry about that tomorrow” attitude toward retirement. They totaled $11.1 trillion in the first quarter, but that number includes public funds and private defined benefit plans that are seldom available to pre-retirees unless they leave their jobs.

The private defined contribution plans, typically 401(k)s, totaled $2.5 trillion in 2004 and have been growing rapidly because employers favor them. But sadly, many employees, especially those at lower income levels, don’t share their bosses’ zeal. Only about 70% participate in their company 401(k) plans and thereby take advantage of company contributions. Lower paid employees are especially absent from participation, with 40% of those making less than $20,000 contributing (60% of those earning $20,000 to $40,000), while 90% of employees earning $100,000 or more participate.

Furthermore, the amount that employees could net from withdrawals from defined contribution plans would be far less than the $2.5 trillion total, probably less than the $1.8 trillion they pulled out of their houses from 2003 to 2005. That $2.5 trillion total includes company contributions that are not yet vested and can’t be withdrawn. Also, withdrawals by those under 59½ years old are subject to a 10% penalty, with income taxes due on the remainder.

With soaring stock portfolios now ancient history and leaping house prices about to be, no other sources, such as inheritance or pension fund withdrawals, are likely to fill the gap between robust consumer spending and weak income growth. Consumer retrenchment and the saving spree I’ve been expecting may finally be about to commence. And the effects on consumer behavior, especially on borrowing and discretionary spending, will be broad and deep.

Analysts' Forecasts and Brokerage-Firm Trading
THE ACCOUNTING REVIEW Vol. 79, No. 1 2004 pp. 125–149 Analysts’ Forecasts and
Brokerage-Firm Trading
Paul J. Irvine Emory University University of Georgia
Collectively, these results suggest that analysts can generate higher trading commissions through their positive stock recommendations than by biasing their forecasts.

WHISPERS OF MERGERS SET OFF BOUTS OF SUSPICIOUS TRADING...
August 27, 2006 NYTimes By GRETCHEN MORGENSONThe boom in corporate mergers is creating concern that illicit trading ahead of deal announcements is becoming a systemic problem.

(12-13-06) Suckers bear market rally is nothing less than a defacto fraud by the lunatic frauds on wall street to suck the suckers in; ie., as the Dow Jones industrial average up 1, Standard & Poor's 500 index up 1, and the Nasdaq composite index up 1, all very commissionable on heavy volume as in final pre-election result push for bush, which fell very short. Retail sales up a very unexpected 1%, riiiiight, at the same time inventories of such goods rising substantially (do you think they’re booking sales to ‘straw men/companies’.....I do!) and oil inventories down. Fake employment numbers (from the government.....riiiiight!) the impetus for previous b.s. rally despite falling sentiment and uptick in unemployment. The ism services index (financed by unsustainable deficit/debt spending and pushing/commissioning worthless paper) and jawboning/bulls**t from the housing industry (the end is near.....riiiiight!), obfuscating mergers continued to cloud the picture, closely-watched core-PCE deflator had risen a more than expected 0.2%, second sub-50 reading on manufacturing activity in as many sessions-the November ISM index unexpectedly fell to 49.5 (consensus 52.0), Chicago PMI fell to its lowest level (49.9%) in October, and below the 50 level, indicating contraction, crude prices up  (OIL PRICES RISE ABOVE $63 A BARREL...), DOLLAR RESUMES SLIDE, Fed Chairman Bernanke & Co. cheerleading/jawboning/bulls**t, 3.2% decline in new home sales, oil inventories down and oil prices up, oil producers shun the dollar, Russia and Opec shift revenues into euros, yen and sterling..., all very bad news anywhere but in the fraudulent alice-in-wonderland world of wall street. Durable goods orders fell sharply, sentiment down, but supposedly used home sales rose slightly (riiiiight.....who says; the realtors/government who have been talking up this bubble market?) albeit at sharply lower prices. DOLLAR PLUNGES TO NEAR 15-YEAR LOW  In other words, no good news to justify the ridiculous up move by the alice-in-wonderland frauds of wall street. Worthless dollar, triple deficits, stock/options scandals/corruption, as some speculate that fed is behind purchases/manipulation (through proxy) of worthless american paper now being shunned by more rational market players abroad.  MARKETS ROCKED BY LONG OVERDUE BUT STILL MODEST RELATIVE TO REALITY SHARP SLIDE IN DOLLAR...There has never been a time since 1929 when stock prices and p/e ratios were so irrationally high for this point in a bull cycle in this indisputable secular bear market, particularly with the existing unprecedented structural economic problems, ie., trade and budget deficits, worthless dollar, scandals, fraud, corruption , etc.. In fact, unemployment unexpectedly rose substantially and consumer sentiment unexpectedly but similarly realistically fell, both very negative exept in the  fraudulent alice-in-wonderland world of wall street. Indeed, the housing bubble bursting with ie., unexpected 14% decline in starts/permits, etc., led to rally in the fraudulent alice-in-wonderland world of wall street. Obfuscating mergers help preclude detection of this massive and pervasive fraud which defies analysis owing to these mergers. New talking pointing: dell numbers exceed expectations depending upon ongoing government scrutiny of their accounting practices.....riiiiight! More contrived manipulated markets and data well as that previous unexpected rise in that global hub of manufacturing activity, New York (worthless paper is their real product, etc.) …..riiiiight!….. underpins fraudulent up move. Reassuring Fed speak, also known as b**l s**t, along with IPO’s (get the suckers in at the highs as in late 90’s market bubble), and shrugging off pervasive stock/options fraud as at, ie., KB Homes, etc., leave stocks ridiculously higher. Nations leaving the worthless dollar in droves for currencies backed by value and for precious metals. Based on the self-interested statement of typical fraud american and fed rep, we hear once again the wishful thought that housing has bottomed.....right! [Reality/Truth: US housing slump deepens, spreads]. Home depot rallies despite lower than expected results and lower guidance for the year.....right! Who is stupid enough to believe anything the fraudulent criminal americans say. They are printing worthless dollars like mad. Consumer sentiment actually previously fell and there was nothing but wall street lunacy to prop the fraudulent market. The republicans who lockstepped with war criminal dumbya bush deserved to lose. The frauds on wall street now looking for the new corporate welfare program for which to sell the sizzle ie., stem cells, etc.. The know-nothing pundits are now saying the up move without any rational basis is predicated upon the the falsity that gridlock in washington is welcomed and good because no regulation of, ie., fraud on wall street, etc., can be passed. How about a tax on stock trades to come directly from the traders' (traitors/frauds) bottom lines and provide a disincentive for the churn-and-earn fraud which is tantamount to a wasteful tax on the economy. Even token Christian paulison from jew fraud wall street couldn't stem the tide against the blatent zionist/neocon/bush co failure accross the board as the wall street frauds show record profits financed, albeit indirectly, by huge deficits, both trade and budget. Obfuscating mergers blur the picture to provide cover for up move talking points in defiance of reality.  Stagflation and full employment revisions pre-election.....riiiiight. Productivity comes in at a less than expected 0 (inflationary). The only surprise should have been that the number wasn't negative. The pundits are now saying that the market/wall street fraud is in a state of denial regarding economic fundamentals and that the market is substantially overbought, overvalued, overfrauded, over, etc., the manufacturing index coming in lower than expectations. Consumer sentiment unexpectedly fell.....daaaaah. Pre-election core inflation rate report good …..riiiiight…..but savings rate still negative and walmart sales/profits/outlook substantially below expectations but what the heck, they’re wallstreet lunatics/frauds and reality is no problem. Despite pre-election deficit spending, GNP comes in a less than expected paltry 1.6% increase with worthless falling dollar the catch-22 precluding reality avoidance and the worst yet to come. More nations leaving the worthless dollar as reserve currency even as frauds on wall street reach new highs (What are they smoking? Coking? or like the dollar just cracking) based on corporate welfare flows with money the nation doesn't have pre-election (record deficits). Housing prices continue their sharp decline as bubble deflates. GM only lost 115 million. Ford lost 5.8 billion and must restate earnings back to year 2000 is a bullish sign in the fraudulent alice-in-wonderland lunatic world of wall street. Typical pre-fed meeting rally to provide a cushion for any negative pronouncements which reality would require but are seldom forthcoming by the accommodative frauds who have similarly embraced unreality. Indeed, the gutless wimps of wall street think they're "tough" when they fraudulently take the market higher despite a clearly contrary fact based reality. Caterpillar relates the pervasive reality and the frauds on wallstreet intimidate same with sell off, ignoring pervasive options scandal/fraud and rallies Merck despite lower than expectation results.....riiiiight! Election year corporate welfare to prime the pump and the mock stock market with money the nation doesn’t have (increasing already huge deficits). CPI figures (upon which government inflation adjusted payment obligations are based) lower than expected…..riiiiight! Intel earnings/revenues down sharply but according to the lunatic frauds on wall street, beat expectations and stock rallies along with yahoo which as in the pre-dot com bust days says better days are a coming….. riiiiight Core inflation rate which is closely watched by the Fed exceeds all expectations. Fraud Merrill Lynch has really been pushing and commissioning that worthless paper and reports record earnings, despite having produced nothing and for very little if any value added (that ill-gotten money has to come from somewhere-your pockets?). The big economic report awaiting scrutiny was the monthly trade deficit which was expected to narrow but in fact INCREASED to 69.9 billion. The alice-in-wonderland lunatic wall street frauds rallied on the news as the dollar precipitously fell. The Fed Chairman said there is a "substantial correction" in housing, which will probably shave about 1% off growth in the second half of the year. The Institute of Supply Management said its services index fell to 52.9 in September -- the lowest level since April 2003. Great News….. riiiiight!..... Consumer Confidence Higher Than Expected... riiiiight!..... and housing starts were down sharply but not-as-bad-as-expectations game in play US Existing Home Sales Fall 0.5% in August; Sales Price Drops Existing-home prices fall for 1st time in 11 years along with fed jaw-boning pre-election that inflation has been licked .....riiiiight …..despite printing worthless dollars like they’re going out of style because they really are! Fed did nothing and stocks rallied, pre-election.....riiiiight! What about the reality of u.s. debt service at a record unsustainable $2 billion per day on a revolving $2 trillion charge account with ie., China, etc.. The fact that foreclosures are up and that there is projected new trade deficit record, fake government inflation numbers for election year purposes, housing starts down 6% means little to the alice-in-wonderland lunatic frauds of wall street and the so-called pundits including yahoo below. Almost all computerized volume is and must be considered heavy, manipulated, economically wasteful volume [stocks move contrary to rational analytical facts (ie., exceeded lowered expectations, things so bad interest rates can’t rise, exceeded expectations, no earnings but outlook extraordinary, the fed says booo as they print more worthless dollars to finance deficits, etc. ) is money in the bank for the frauds on wall street when they unwind said irrational positions ]. Philadelphia Federal Reserve announces that its broadest measure of manufacturing activity fell to a negative reading for the first time since April 2003, leading economic indicators fall .2%, and previously fell .1% though expected to show an increase, and in addition to the larger than expected 4.1% drop in July existing home sales to its lowest level in over two years and lifted inventories to record levels , new home sales fell 4.3%, and a larger than expected 2.4% decline in July durable orders which are negatives anywhere but in the alice-in-wonderland lunatic world of wall street where same is greeted as good news as also follows with b**l s**t from Yahoo (which didn’t even reference the record unanticipated trade gap):

Qantas Accepts $8.64B Takeover Offer
AP - Qantas Airways said Thursday it had accepted an 11.1 billion Australian dollar takeover offer from a private equity consortium including Australia's Macquarie Bank and the Texas Pacific Group -- one of the biggest corporate buyouts in Australian history.

Airline Mergers Could Raise Fares in '07 AP
Nearly 450 AOL Employees Are Laid Off
AP
Boston Globe Union Approves New Contract
AP
Taco Bell Sales Hit by E. Coli Outbreak
AP

Even though stocks closed in positive territory, the market struggled to find much direction all afternoon as five months of gains continued to leave the major averages looking tired. Before the bell, the stage was set for the underlying bullish tone to resurface following Tuesday's breather after a surprisingly strong retail sales report boosted investor confidence about the strength of the U.S. economy. With consumers taking advantage of holiday discounts, retail sales in November posted their largest gain (1.0%) since July (consensus 0.2%), as strength in 11 of 13 categories eased concerns about weakness in the housing market curtailing consumption. Also indicative of good underlying growth in consumer spending was an even better 1.1% rise in sales excluding autos. That was the largest increase since January. Not surprisingly, the biggest beneficiary was Consumer Discretionary. The sector found some support from a 1.0% gain in one of its biggest constituents, and Dow component, Home Depot (HD 39.08 +0.38), which confirmed expansion efforts into China by acquiring The Home Way. Other deal making today included reports that UAL Corp (UAUA 45.24 +2.01) is in talks to merge with Continental Airlines (CAL 44.72 +1.84). Such a combination would make it the world's largest carrier measured by passenger traffic, eclipsing American Airlines. The latter is owned by AMR Corp (AMR 32.60 +0.60), a suggested holding in the Briefing.com Active Portfolio. More evidence of industry consolidation lit a fire under Airlines - today's best performing S&P industry group (+2.8%). However, a number of analyst downgrades (e.g. CSX -4.4%, JBHT -2.5%, YRCW -2.1%) and rising oil prices weighed on transportation stocks, removing leadership from Industrials - today's worst performing sector. In fact, Energy was the only sector exhibiting any conviction on the part of buyers. Nonetheless, its advance was largely attributed to crude oil futures closing higher for the first time in four days, which in turn removed some of the enthusiasm behind what today's strong retail sales data say about consumer spending. Had it not been for the sector's leadership as a major contributor to profit growth on the S&P 500, stocks would have finished lower. Aside from rising oil prices, a sell-off in Treasuries also left investors questioning the sustainability of the five-month rally in equities. The 10-year note plunged 21 ticks, lifting the yield to 4.57%, after strong retail sales growth diminished hopes of an interest rate cut in early 2007. As a reminder, the Dow and S&P 500 are up more than 15% from their summer lows and the Nasdaq is up nearly 21% since mid July. Such impressive performances, though, have been supported in part by lower oil prices and a decline in borrowing costs. DJ30 +1.92 NASDAQ +0.81 SP500 +1.66 NASDAQ Dec/Adv/Vol 1540/1525/1.81 bln NYSE Dec/Adv/Vol 1584/1731/1.42 bln.

U.S. HOUSING SLUMP DEEPENS, SPREADS
BARRIE MCKENNA Washington — First, Americans quit buying homes. Now, they may have stopped fixing and furnishing them too. Home Depot Inc. reported a 3-per-cent drop in profit in the three months that ended in October, amid mounting evidence that the U.S. housing slump is getting worse. “I don't think we've seen the bottom yet, and I don't see anything that says it's going to get significantly better in 2007,” said Bob Nardelli, Home Depot's chairman and chief executive officer. Mr. Nardelli said job losses in the home construction market are the worst he's seen in 35 years, and the pain is starting to spread to the home renovation market. “The loss of jobs ... in the home construction market is at unprecedented levels,” Mr. Nardelli told analysts on a conference call Tuesday. “Home builders [are] basically writing off earnest money and liquidating land. We're starting to see a lot of that unemployment find its way over to the small repair and remodel contractors.” Problems in the housing sector have also begun to affect how consumers spend their money. In October, U.S. retail sales fell at an annual rate of 0.2 per cent — the third consecutive monthly decline, according to a U.S. Commerce Department report Tuesday. The decline was heavily influenced by lower gasoline prices, which resulted in less revenue for gas stations. But there were also sharp declines in building materials (down 0.3 per cent), furniture (down 0.7 per cent) and department store sales (down 0.7 per cent). Over the past three months, sales of building materials have plunged at an annual rate of 10.6 per cent. “The housing slowdown left its grimy fingerprints all over this report,” BMO Nesbitt Burns economist Douglas Porter said in a note to clients. Lower gasoline prices don't seem to be causing consumers to spend elsewhere, as many economists had predicted. Even if you strip out volatile gas, food and auto sales, all other retail sales rose a meagre 0.1 per cent October. “People are being very cautious,” said Ian Shepherdson, chief North American economist at High Frequency Economics. “The housing crunch is now hurting.” At least two other bellwether U.S. retailers — Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Target Corp. — reported Tuesday that their sales and profit remain strong, in spite of the problems in the housing sector. But executives at Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, acknowledged that sales in the third quarter were disappointing and it is already vowing its biggest-ever discounting binge on items such as toys and electronics to keep cash registers ringing this Christmas. “This season, no one will doubt Wal-Mart's leadership on price and value,” Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott said. Wal-Mart's profit rose to $2.65-billion (U.S.) or 63 cents a share in the third quarter that ended Oct. 31, up from $2.37-billion or 57 cents a year earlier. That was slightly below what analysts had expected, according to Reuters. Sales were up 12 per cent to $83.5-billion. But those figures include sales at newly opened stores and foreign stores. Sales at U.S. stores that have been open at least a year were up just 1.5 per cent, and Mr. Scott said fourth-quarter sales would rise just 1 to 2 per cent.

There is nothing to rationally justify the previous up move or mixed results in the market other than what is tantamount to a negative, and based upon spurious data from the government; ie., fake government numbers said total PPI rose a smaller than expected 0.1% (consensus 0.4%) in July, which was well below the 0.5% jump in June, while the more closely watched core rate (ex-food and energy) unexpectedly (RIIIIIGHT!) fell 0.3% (consensus +0.2%) -- the first decline since October and the largest drop since a 0.5% decline in April 2003. Home Sales Decline in 28 States, D.C.. Real estate prices down/stagnant. But housing stocks…..up.....riiiiight!.....in the fraudulent "alice-in-wonderland" lunatic world of wall street where down is up and up is down.  Martin Crutsinger, AP Economics Writer, previously wrote,” U.S. Trade Deficit Falls 0.3 Percent in June to $64.8B, Offsetting Jump in Chinese Imports. Dell Recall Stems From sony Production Flaw  WASHINGTON (AP) -- America's trade deficit showed a slight improvement as strong global growth pushed U.S. exports to a record level. That helped offset a surge in Chinese imports and record crude oil prices. The deficit declined 0.3 percent in June, compared with May, dropping to $64.8 billion, still the fifth largest imbalance on record, the Commerce Department reported Thursday. The deficit is running at an annual rate of $768 billion through the first six months of this year, putting the country on track to see a fifth straight record imbalance. Last year's deficit was $716.7 billion. Prior considerations remain apposite in this clearly overvalued market. The frauds on wall street feel compelled to continue their tradition/superstition/fraud tactic of buying on the rumor and selling on the news (fact) of the Fed’s temporary pause in rate hikes. You see, the facts/news do not rationally warrant holding dollar based securities/stocks but provide a means to scam the stupid money, to the benefit of the wall street frauds/scammers and smart money.  Yahoo previously commented: Friday was a wild day on Wall Street with early gains fueled by an encouraging July jobs report being wiped away as the return of concern tied to an economic slowdown outweighed the potential of a pause in tightening at Tuesday's Fed meeting. Before the bell, nonfarm payrolls rose a less than expected 113,000 and the unemployment rate rose for the first time since November, suggesting the labor market is losing steam and reinforcing the view that the economy is on track for a soft landing. To wit, fed funds futures were pricing in a 44% chance....., to which I responded, Wild..... I’ll give you wild: GM says their quarterly loss was $3.4 billion and not 3.2 billion as reported; Ford says their loss was $200 million dollars more than they previously reported and will now join gm in worker buyouts; but both GM and Ford will now offer built-in ipods which should substantially help their core business of building cars; meanwhile, options/accounting scandal/subterfuge occurring at the apple ipod (anything but computers) company. Analyst says GM good news now behind it (past/discounted), yet stock still rose upon said analysis …..riiiiight….. daaaaah! Apple Computer Inc. warned Thursday that it may have to revise its profits dating back to 2002 in a worsening stock option scandal, maybe even suspension, that has cast a harsh light on Silicon Valley's compensation practices. Don’t forget that GDP growth slowed substantially and below expectations at 2.5% which in the alice-in-wonderland lunatic world of wall street is of course good news. Stagflation? The fact is that no rational investor would choose dollar based stocks/securities when they could get less risky/liquid (approx.) 5% yielding cds, money market instruments, short-term treasuries/funds, etc.. However it’s not rational investors that are racking up commission dollars trading in and out of stocks like termites eating away at the huge capital funds which they control. Nothing constituting real value would account for the fraudulent rally mode this and other days. Highly leveraged obfuscating mergers/acquisitions, also very commissionable (investment bankers/brokers), and historically have more often than not ended quite badly; oil prices now above $61; yes, as in the last crash, they will get fooled again’ as stocks up sharply in the fraudulent alice-in-wonderland lunatic world of wall street where down is up and up is down. The stock market has never been so backward-looking. Indeed, amazingly, the pundits/analysts are even talking SEASONAL considerations in their fraud in the inducement which is the height of absurdity (such things are discounted well in advance in a rational market). The once objective, fact-oriented Barrons publication has now become a shill for the continuing fraud on wall street. Bush no conservative says Buckley (who also says that in Europe bush’s failed war policies would have required his expected resignation).....daaaaah!; neither are the hillbillies clintons and papa hillbilly bush. CNN's DOBBS BLASTS U.S. ISRAEL POLICY... BUCHANAN: 'Israel policy violates international law, is un-American and un-Christian'... The government is also catching on and playing the “better than expectations” game with the still very substantial deficit numbers, clouded by the use of social security funds used in the general fund rather than allocated for the defacto bankrupt social security system where they belong. ! Remember, leading economic indicators are down .6 percent continuing an ignored (by wall street frauds) downward trend/weakness extending back to the summer, 2005. Options scandal as was inherent in the (fraudulent) dotcom bust is extent and under way in nasdaq particularly. Spotlight on the Stock Option Scandal-The share prices of companies involved in stock options backdating have held up well compared to the broader market. But shareholders might be in for a rougher ride. Plus, why the Nasdaq has its hands full. I previously warned be very skeptical of up-coming government/corporate/collaborative/wall street data inasmuch as they are quite desperate and have proven [ie., illegal Iraq war/occupation, 911 attack(for the neocon contrived pearl harbor effect)/who ordered NORAD to stand down?/who were the pre911(within days) short-sellers?/ and the twin towers implosion, the missile that hit the pentagon precisely in the area that housed the army investigators who announced days before the opening of an investigation into a substantial pentagon fraud, etc.] that the truth is no obstacle when falsity is expedient and the lunatic frauds on wall street will try to tell you what’s up is down and what’s down is up. Lou Dobbs gets paid a lot of money to keep track of such things and doubts the verity of the government numbers. He is riiiiight! The catch-22 is that the defacto bankrupt u.s. is printing worthless paper (so much so that they’ve stopped reporting M3) and borrowing beyond sustainability, which is hyperinflationary despite false government numbers (ie., core inflation number to fraudulently decrease yield to ibond holders, etc.). Higher interest rates to prop worthless dollar and finance deficits inevitable despite wishin', hopin', and lyin’ to the contrary; foreclosures up, housing down, default notices up 67% (particularly in california, ie., orange, la, ventura, counties etc.) nationwide. Don’t forget: the equity in housing has been stripped out of real estate by way of the refinancing boom, which artificially stimulated the economic numbers while ultimately leaving buyers with debt exceeding actual property values. There is substantial downside bias in light of real economic considerations, particularly beyond the moment/trading day given that this bull (s**t) cycle in this indisputable secular bear market is over. Remember: more contrived wasteful commissions to the wall street frauds, the level and percentage of which should be examined in light of computerization and decreased costs attendant to same especially since only A Small Fraction Of What wall street Does Is A Net Positive For The Economy (New Investment Capital), The Rest Is Tantamount To A (Economically) "Wasteful Tax" (On The Economy) via 'churn and earn' computerized programmed trades.

US '.....going bankrupt'
By Edmund Conway, Economics Editor (Filed: 14/07/2006)

The United States is heading for bankruptcy, according to an extraordinary paper published by one of the key members of the country's central bank.

A ballooning budget deficit and a pensions and welfare timebomb could send the economic superpower into insolvency, according to research by Professor Laurence Kotlikoff for the Federal Reserve Bank of St Louis, a leading constituent of the US Federal Reserve.

Prof Kotlikoff said that, by some measures, the US is already bankrupt. "To paraphrase the Oxford English Dictionary, is the United States at the end of its resources, exhausted, stripped bare, destitute, bereft, wanting in property, or wrecked in consequence of failure to pay its creditors," he asked.

According to his central analysis, "the US government is, indeed, bankrupt, insofar as it will be unable to pay its creditors, who, in this context, are current and future generations to whom it has explicitly or implicitly promised future net payments of various kinds''.

The budget deficit in the US is not massive. The Bush administration this week cut its forecasts for the fiscal shortfall this year by almost a third, saying it will come in at 2.3pc of gross domestic product. This is smaller than most European countries - including the UK - which have deficits north of 3pc of GDP.

Prof Kotlikoff, who teaches at Boston University, says: "The proper way to consider a country's solvency is to examine the lifetime fiscal burdens facing current and future generations. If these burdens exceed the resources of those generations, get close to doing so, or simply get so high as to preclude their full collection, the country's policy will be unsustainable and can constitute or lead to national bankruptcy.

"Does the United States fit this bill? No one knows for sure, but there are strong reasons to believe the United States may be going broke."

Experts have calculated that the country's long-term "fiscal gap" between all future government spending and all future receipts will widen immensely as the Baby Boomer generation retires, and as the amount the state will have to spend on healthcare and pensions soars. The total fiscal gap could be an almost incomprehensible $65.9 trillion, according to a study by Professors Gokhale and Smetters.

The figure is massive because President George W Bush has made major tax cuts in recent years, and because the bill for Medicare, which provides health insurance for the elderly, and Medicaid, which does likewise for the poor, will increase greatly due to demographics.

Prof Kotlikoff said: "This figure is more than five times US GDP and almost twice the size of national wealth. One way to wrap one's head around $65.9trillion is to ask what fiscal adjustments are needed to eliminate this red hole. The answers are terrifying. One solution is an immediate and permanent doubling of personal and corporate income taxes. Another is an immediate and permanent two-thirds cut in Social Security and Medicare benefits. A third alternative, were it feasible, would be to immediately and permanently cut all federal discretionary spending by 143pc."

The scenario has serious implications for the dollar. If investors lose confidence in the US's future, and suspect the country may at some point allow inflation to erode away its debts, they may reduce their holdings of US Treasury bonds.

Prof Kotlikoff said: "The United States has experienced high rates of inflation in the past and appears to be running the same type of fiscal policies that engendered hyperinflations in 20 countries over the past century."

UPDATE - Two former NYSE traders found guilty of fraud

Stock market staggers, but investors still may be too optimistic

Commentary: Newsletters react to stock markets' losing week
By Peter Brimelow, MarketWatch  12:04 AM ET Jul 17, 2006
Investors may still be too optimistic
NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- First, a proprietary word: on Friday night, the Hulbert Stock Newsletter Sentiment Index (HSNSI), which reflects the average recommended stock market exposure among a subset of short-term market timing newsletters tracked by the Hulbert Financial Digest, stood at plus-23.8%. This was certainly below the 31.4% it showed on Tuesday night, when Mark Hulbert worried, presciently we must say, that it was too strong from a contrary opinion point of view. But it's still above its 12.6% reading at end of June, although, Mark pointed out, the stock market had declined in the interim. And since Mark wrote, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has had three triple-digit down days.

Not good.

Dow Theory Letters' Richard Russell wrote Friday morning: "If the Dow breaks support at 10,760, I think we could have some nasty action, even some crash-type action." But, perhaps significantly, Russell did not quite hit the panic button when the Dow did indeed close at 10,739 Friday night.

He simply remarked, supporting the contrary opinion view: "Three days in a row with the Dow down over 100 points each day -- you don't see that very often. But still no signs of real fear, no capitulation, no panic -- just down, down, and down. The key consideration here is that there is still no sign of big money coming into this market. In fact, the big money has been leaving this market all year. ... The longer the market continues down without a panic decline, the worse the ultimate panic will be when it arrives."

What is Wrong with the Stock Market?

Dr. Khaled Batarfi

 

John D. Rockefeller was once asked why he decided to sell all his stocks just months before the 1929 Wall Street Crash. He explained: One morning, I was on the way to my office and stopped to have my shoes polished. The guy asked my advice about the shares he bought. If people with this kind of talent were now playing the market, I knew there was something wrong.....

 

U.S. Treasury balances at Fed fell on July 17Tue Jul 18, 2006

WASHINGTON, July 18 (Reuters) - U.S. Treasury balances at the Federal Reserve, based on the Treasury Department's latest budget statement (billions of dollars, except where noted):

              July 17 July 14 (respectively)

Fed acct  4.087 4.935

Tax/loan note acct 10.502 10.155

Cash balance 14.589 15.192

National debt,

subject to limit 8,311.633 8,323.084

The statutory debt limit is $8.965 trillion.

The Treasury said there were $192 million in individual tax refunds and $23 million in corporate tax refunds issued.

End Of The Bubble Bailouts A. Gary Shilling, Insight 08.29.06 - For a quarter-century, Americans’ spending binge has been fueled by a declining savings rate and increased borrowing. The savings rate of American consumers has fallen from 12% in the early 1980s to -1.7% today (see chart below). This means that, on average, consumer spending has risen about a half percentage point more than disposable, or after-tax, income per year for a quarter-century.

The fact that Americans are saving less and less of their after-tax income is only half the profligate consumer story. If someone borrows to buy a car, his savings rate declines because his outlays go up but his disposable income doesn’t. So the downward march in the personal savings rate is closely linked to the upward march in total consumer debt (mortgage, credit card, auto, etc.) in relation to disposable income (see chart below).

Robust consumer spending was fueled first by the soaring stock market of the 1990s and, more recently, by the housing bubble, as house prices departed from their normal close link to the Consumer Price Index (see chart below) and subsequently racked up huge appreciation for homeowners, who continued to save less and spend more. Thanks to accommodative lenders eager to provide refinancings and home equity loans, Americans extracted $719 billion in cash from their houses last year after a $633 billion withdrawal in 2004, according to the Federal Reserve.

But the housing bubble is deflating rapidly. I expect at least a 20% decline in median single-family house prices nationwide, and that number may be way understated. A bursting of the bubble would force many homeowners to curb their outlays in order to close the gaps between their income and spending growth. That would surely precipitate a major recession that would become global, given the dependence of most foreign countries on U.S. consumers to buy the excess goods and services for which they have no other markets.

That is, unless another source of money can bridge the gap between consumer incomes and outlays, just as house appreciation seamlessly took over when stocks nosedived. What could that big new source of money be? And would it be available soon, given the likelihood that house prices will swoon in coming quarters?

One possible source of big, although not immediate, money to sustain consumer spending is inheritance. Some estimates in the 1990s had the postwar babies, who have saved little for their retirement, inheriting between $10 trillion and $41 trillion from their parents in the coming decades. But subsequent work by AARP, using the Federal Reserve’s Survey of Consumer Finances for 2004 and previous years, slashed the total for inheritances of all people alive today to $12 trillion in 2005 dollars. Most of it, $9.2 trillion, will go to pre-boomers born before 1946, only $2.1 trillion to the postwar babies born between 1946 and 1964, and $0.7 trillion to the post-boomers.

Furthermore, the value of all previous inheritances as reported in the 2004 survey was $49,902 on average, with $70,317 for pre-boomers, $48,768 for boomers and $24,348 for post-boomers. Clearly, these are not numbers that provide for comfortable retirements and, therefore, allow people to continue to spend like drunken sailors.

What other assets could consumers borrow against or liquidate to support spending growth in the future? After all, they do have a lot of net worth, almost $54 trillion for households and nonprofit organizations as of the end of the first quarter. Nevertheless, there aren’t any other big assets left to tap. Another big stock bonanza is unlikely for decades, and the real estate bubble is deflating.

Deposits total $6.3 trillion, but the majority, $4.9 trillion worth, is in time and savings deposits, largely held for retirement by financially conservative people. Is it likely that a speculator who owns five houses has sizable time deposits to fall back on? Households and nonprofits hold $3.2 trillion in bonds and other credit market instruments, but most owned by individuals are in conservative hands. Life insurance reserves can be borrowed, but their total size, $1.1 trillion, pales in comparison to the $1.8 trillion that homeowners extracted from their houses in the 2003-2005 years. There’s $6.7 trillion of equity in noncorporate business, but the vast majority of that is needed by typically cash-poor small businesses to keep their doors open.

Pension funds might be a source of cash for consumers who want to live it up now and take the Scarlett O’Hara, “I’ll worry about that tomorrow” attitude toward retirement. They totaled $11.1 trillion in the first quarter, but that number includes public funds and private defined benefit plans that are seldom available to pre-retirees unless they leave their jobs.

The private defined contribution plans, typically 401(k)s, totaled $2.5 trillion in 2004 and have been growing rapidly because employers favor them. But sadly, many employees, especially those at lower income levels, don’t share their bosses’ zeal. Only about 70% participate in their company 401(k) plans and thereby take advantage of company contributions. Lower paid employees are especially absent from participation, with 40% of those making less than $20,000 contributing (60% of those earning $20,000 to $40,000), while 90% of employees earning $100,000 or more participate.

Furthermore, the amount that employees could net from withdrawals from defined contribution plans would be far less than the $2.5 trillion total, probably less than the $1.8 trillion they pulled out of their houses from 2003 to 2005. That $2.5 trillion total includes company contributions that are not yet vested and can’t be withdrawn. Also, withdrawals by those under 59½ years old are subject to a 10% penalty, with income taxes due on the remainder.

With soaring stock portfolios now ancient history and leaping house prices about to be, no other sources, such as inheritance or pension fund withdrawals, are likely to fill the gap between robust consumer spending and weak income growth. Consumer retrenchment and the saving spree I’ve been expecting may finally be about to commence. And the effects on consumer behavior, especially on borrowing and discretionary spending, will be broad and deep.

Analysts' Forecasts and Brokerage-Firm Trading
THE ACCOUNTING REVIEW Vol. 79, No. 1 2004 pp. 125–149 Analysts’ Forecasts and
Brokerage-Firm Trading
Paul J. Irvine Emory University University of Georgia
Collectively, these results suggest that analysts can generate higher trading commissions through their positive stock recommendations than by biasing their forecasts.

WHISPERS OF MERGERS SET OFF BOUTS OF SUSPICIOUS TRADING...
August 27, 2006 NYTimes By GRETCHEN MORGENSONThe boom in corporate mergers is creating concern that illicit trading ahead of deal announcements is becoming a systemic problem.

(12-12-06) Stocks drop still only modestly relative to reality with suckers bear market rally into the close as the wall street fraud continues to suck the suckers in; ie., as the Dow Jones industrial average fell 12.90, S&P fell 5.68 ,and NASDAQ fell 11.26 , all very commissionable on heavy volume as in final pre-election result push for bush, which fell very short. Fake employment numbers (from the government.....riiiiight!) the impetus for b.s. rally despite falling sentiment and uptick in unemployment. The ism services index (financed by unsustainable deficit/debt spending and pushing/commissioning worthless paper) and jawboning/bulls**t from the housing industry (the end is near.....riiiiight!), obfuscating mergers continued to cloud the picture, closely-watched core-PCE deflator had risen a more than expected 0.2%, second sub-50 reading on manufacturing activity in as many sessions-the November ISM index unexpectedly fell to 49.5 (consensus 52.0), Chicago PMI fell to its lowest level (49.9%) in October, and below the 50 level, indicating contraction, crude prices up  (OIL PRICES RISE ABOVE $63 A BARREL...), DOLLAR RESUMES SLIDE, Fed Chairman Bernanke & Co. cheerleading/jawboning/bulls**t, 3.2% decline in new home sales, oil inventories down and oil prices up, oil producers shun the dollar, Russia and Opec shift revenues into euros, yen and sterling..., all very bad news anywhere but in the fraudulent alice-in-wonderland world of wall street. Durable goods orders fell sharply, sentiment down, but supposedly used home sales rose slightly (riiiiight.....who says; the realtors/government who have been talking up this bubble market?) albeit at sharply lower prices. DOLLAR PLUNGES TO NEAR 15-YEAR LOW  In other words, no good news to justify the ridiculous up move by the alice-in-wonderland frauds of wall street. Worthless dollar, triple deficits, stock/options scandals/corruption, as some speculate that fed is behind purchases/manipulation (through proxy) of worthless american paper now being shunned by more rational market players abroad.  MARKETS ROCKED BY LONG OVERDUE BUT STILL MODEST RELATIVE TO REALITY SHARP SLIDE IN DOLLAR...There has never been a time since 1929 when stock prices and p/e ratios were so irrationally high for this point in a bull cycle in this indisputable secular bear market, particularly with the existing unprecedented structural economic problems, ie., trade and budget deficits, worthless dollar, scandals, fraud, corruption , etc.. In fact, unemployment unexpectedly rose substantially and consumer sentiment unexpectedly but similarly realistically fell, both very negative exept in the  fraudulent alice-in-wonderland world of wall street. Indeed, the housing bubble bursting with ie., unexpected 14% decline in starts/permits, etc., led to rally in the fraudulent alice-in-wonderland world of wall street. Obfuscating mergers help preclude detection of this massive and pervasive fraud which defies analysis owing to these mergers. New talking pointing: dell numbers exceed expectations depending upon ongoing government scrutiny of their accounting practices.....riiiiight! More contrived manipulated markets and data well as that previous unexpected rise in that global hub of manufacturing activity, New York (worthless paper is their real product, etc.) …..riiiiight!….. underpins fraudulent up move. Reassuring Fed speak, also known as b**l s**t, along with IPO’s (get the suckers in at the highs as in late 90’s market bubble), and shrugging off pervasive stock/options fraud as at, ie., KB Homes, etc., leave stocks ridiculously higher. Nations leaving the worthless dollar in droves for currencies backed by value and for precious metals. Based on the self-interested statement of typical fraud american and fed rep, we hear once again the wishful thought that housing has bottomed.....right! [Reality/Truth: US housing slump deepens, spreads]. Home depot rallies despite lower than expected results and lower guidance for the year.....right! Who is stupid enough to believe anything the fraudulent criminal americans say. They are printing worthless dollars like mad. Consumer sentiment actually previously fell and there was nothing but wall street lunacy to prop the fraudulent market. The republicans who lockstepped with war criminal dumbya bush deserved to lose. The frauds on wall street now looking for the new corporate welfare program for which to sell the sizzle ie., stem cells, etc.. The know-nothing pundits are now saying the up move without any rational basis is predicated upon the the falsity that gridlock in washington is welcomed and good because no regulation of, ie., fraud on wall street, etc., can be passed. How about a tax on stock trades to come directly from the traders' (traitors/frauds) bottom lines and provide a disincentive for the churn-and-earn fraud which is tantamount to a wasteful tax on the economy. Even token Christian paulison from jew fraud wall street couldn't stem the tide against the blatent zionist/neocon/bush co failure accross the board as the wall street frauds show record profits financed, albeit indirectly, by huge deficits, both trade and budget. Obfuscating mergers blur the picture to provide cover for up move talking points in defiance of reality.  Stagflation and full employment revisions pre-election.....riiiiight. Productivity comes in at a less than expected 0 (inflationary). The only surprise should have been that the number wasn't negative. The pundits are now saying that the market/wall street fraud is in a state of denial regarding economic fundamentals and that the market is substantially overbought, overvalued, overfrauded, over, etc., the manufacturing index coming in lower than expectations. Consumer sentiment unexpectedly fell.....daaaaah. Pre-election core inflation rate report good …..riiiiight…..but savings rate still negative and walmart sales/profits/outlook substantially below expectations but what the heck, they’re wallstreet lunatics/frauds and reality is no problem. Despite pre-election deficit spending, GNP comes in a less than expected paltry 1.6% increase with worthless falling dollar the catch-22 precluding reality avoidance and the worst yet to come. More nations leaving the worthless dollar as reserve currency even as frauds on wall street reach new highs (What are they smoking? Coking? or like the dollar just cracking) based on corporate welfare flows with money the nation doesn't have pre-election (record deficits). Housing prices continue their sharp decline as bubble deflates. GM only lost 115 million. Ford lost 5.8 billion and must restate earnings back to year 2000 is a bullish sign in the fraudulent alice-in-wonderland lunatic world of wall street. Typical pre-fed meeting rally to provide a cushion for any negative pronouncements which reality would require but are seldom forthcoming by the accommodative frauds who have similarly embraced unreality. Indeed, the gutless wimps of wall street think they're "tough" when they fraudulently take the market higher despite a clearly contrary fact based reality. Caterpillar relates the pervasive reality and the frauds on wallstreet intimidate same with sell off, ignoring pervasive options scandal/fraud and rallies Merck despite lower than expectation results.....riiiiight! Election year corporate welfare to prime the pump and the mock stock market with money the nation doesn’t have (increasing already huge deficits). CPI figures (upon which government inflation adjusted payment obligations are based) lower than expected…..riiiiight! Intel earnings/revenues down sharply but according to the lunatic frauds on wall street, beat expectations and stock rallies along with yahoo which as in the pre-dot com bust days says better days are a coming….. riiiiight Core inflation rate which is closely watched by the Fed exceeds all expectations. Fraud Merrill Lynch has really been pushing and commissioning that worthless paper and reports record earnings, despite having produced nothing and for very little if any value added (that ill-gotten money has to come from somewhere-your pockets?). The big economic report awaiting scrutiny was the monthly trade deficit which was expected to narrow but in fact INCREASED to 69.9 billion. The alice-in-wonderland lunatic wall street frauds rallied on the news as the dollar precipitously fell. The Fed Chairman said there is a "substantial correction" in housing, which will probably shave about 1% off growth in the second half of the year. The Institute of Supply Management said its services index fell to 52.9 in September -- the lowest level since April 2003. Great News….. riiiiight!..... Consumer Confidence Higher Than Expected... riiiiight!..... and housing starts were down sharply but not-as-bad-as-expectations game in play US Existing Home Sales Fall 0.5% in August; Sales Price Drops Existing-home prices fall for 1st time in 11 years along with fed jaw-boning pre-election that inflation has been licked .....riiiiight …..despite printing worthless dollars like they’re going out of style because they really are! Fed did nothing and stocks rallied, pre-election.....riiiiight! What about the reality of u.s. debt service at a record unsustainable $2 billion per day on a revolving $2 trillion charge account with ie., China, etc.. The fact that foreclosures are up and that there is projected new trade deficit record, fake government inflation numbers for election year purposes, housing starts down 6% means little to the alice-in-wonderland lunatic frauds of wall street and the so-called pundits including yahoo below. Almost all computerized volume is and must be considered heavy, manipulated, economically wasteful volume [stocks move contrary to rational analytical facts (ie., exceeded lowered expectations, things so bad interest rates can’t rise, exceeded expectations, no earnings but outlook extraordinary, the fed says booo as they print more worthless dollars to finance deficits, etc. ) is money in the bank for the frauds on wall street when they unwind said irrational positions ]. Philadelphia Federal Reserve announces that its broadest measure of manufacturing activity fell to a negative reading for the first time since April 2003, leading economic indicators fall .2%, and previously fell .1% though expected to show an increase, and in addition to the larger than expected 4.1% drop in July existing home sales to its lowest level in over two years and lifted inventories to record levels , new home sales fell 4.3%, and a larger than expected 2.4% decline in July durable orders which are negatives anywhere but in the alice-in-wonderland lunatic world of wall street where same is greeted as good news as also follows with b**l s**t from Yahoo (which didn’t even reference the record unanticipated trade gap):

Skilling Ordered to Prison Immediately
AP - It was a brief respite for Jeffrey Skilling. One day after a federal appellate court ruled that the former Enron chief executive could remain free until it decided on his request for bail pending appeal of his sentence for conspiracy, fraud and insider trading, the judge in the cased rejected the request.

Talks May Signal Airlines' Consolidation AP
E. Coli Outbreak Said Not Tied to Onions
AP
Google to Open New Stock Option Market
AP
SEC Easing Key Control Rules for Firms
AP

Stocks snapped a two-day winning streak Tuesday as policy makers failing to back down on their inflation concerns and mixed corporate news left investors questioning the sustainability of a 4 1/2-month rally. Per usual, all eyes were fixed on today's FOMC meeting. With much of the market's Q4 rally predicated on the possibility of the Fed easing no later than March, investors were especially interested to see whether policy makers would reveal any clues pertaining to the timing of an eventual cut in interest rates. However, there were almost no changes in the wording of the policy directive, and thus, no evidence to support the market's optimism that rate cuts are on the way.The inclusion of the word "substantial" in the statement to describe the cooling of the housing market garnered some added attention, but that modifier only seemed to excite bond traders as stocks languished in the red all afternoon. Fortunately for the bulls, the ensuing rally in Treasuries that pushed the yield on the 10-year note (+07/32) down three basis points to 4.49% provided enough of a floor for rate-sensitive bank stocks to help offset profit taking in two of the Financials sector's biggest names.With Citigroup (C 52.24 -0.64) up more than 4% over the last two days, the Dow component merely naming a new COO, but stating there will be no other management changes, prompted investors to take some money off the table. As expected, Goldman Sachs (GS 200.19 -2.33) handily topped analysts' expectations for a fourth straight time. However, the stock succumbed to some profit taking after having been bid up to the tune of 37% from its September lows in anticipation of another record quarter.With Financials finishing flat, that left the second most influential sector in focus -- Technology. As evidenced by the Nasdaq turning in the day's worst performance among the majors, the absence of tech leadership weighed on sentiment throughout the session. The biggest drag on the sector was Apple Computer (AAPL 86.16 -2.59), which dropped nearly 3% after a report suggested iTunes sales are collapsing. Texas Instruments (TXN 29.77 +0.47) was another focal point as its lowered Q4 guidance was viewed as benign and even garnered an analyst upgrade. Yet, it's 1.6% advance was no match for consolidation across the sector. Consumer Discretionary was another weak spot. Best Buy (BBY 51.29 -2.63), which missed analysts' earnings expectations, led the way with a 5% decline while Federated Department Stores (FD 38.00 -1.50) tacking on a 3.8% decline to yesterday's 2.2% downgrade-induced drop placed additional pressure on retailers. DJ30 -12.90 NASDAQ -11.26 SP500 -1.48 NASDAQ Dec/Adv/Vol 1900/1146/1.95 bln NYSE Dec/Adv/Vol 1865/1412/1.46 bln.

U.S. HOUSING SLUMP DEEPENS, SPREADS
BARRIE MCKENNA Washington — First, Americans quit buying homes. Now, they may have stopped fixing and furnishing them too. Home Depot Inc. reported a 3-per-cent drop in profit in the three months that ended in October, amid mounting evidence that the U.S. housing slump is getting worse. “I don't think we've seen the bottom yet, and I don't see anything that says it's going to get significantly better in 2007,” said Bob Nardelli, Home Depot's chairman and chief executive officer. Mr. Nardelli said job losses in the home construction market are the worst he's seen in 35 years, and the pain is starting to spread to the home renovation market. “The loss of jobs ... in the home construction market is at unprecedented levels,” Mr. Nardelli told analysts on a conference call Tuesday. “Home builders [are] basically writing off earnest money and liquidating land. We're starting to see a lot of that unemployment find its way over to the small repair and remodel contractors.” Problems in the housing sector have also begun to affect how consumers spend their money. In October, U.S. retail sales fell at an annual rate of 0.2 per cent — the third consecutive monthly decline, according to a U.S. Commerce Department report Tuesday. The decline was heavily influenced by lower gasoline prices, which resulted in less revenue for gas stations. But there were also sharp declines in building materials (down 0.3 per cent), furniture (down 0.7 per cent) and department store sales (down 0.7 per cent). Over the past three months, sales of building materials have plunged at an annual rate of 10.6 per cent. “The housing slowdown left its grimy fingerprints all over this report,” BMO Nesbitt Burns economist Douglas Porter said in a note to clients. Lower gasoline prices don't seem to be causing consumers to spend elsewhere, as many economists had predicted. Even if you strip out volatile gas, food and auto sales, all other retail sales rose a meagre 0.1 per cent October. “People are being very cautious,” said Ian Shepherdson, chief North American economist at High Frequency Economics. “The housing crunch is now hurting.” At least two other bellwether U.S. retailers — Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Target Corp. — reported Tuesday that their sales and profit remain strong, in spite of the problems in the housing sector. But executives at Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, acknowledged that sales in the third quarter were disappointing and it is already vowing its biggest-ever discounting binge on items such as toys and electronics to keep cash registers ringing this Christmas. “This season, no one will doubt Wal-Mart's leadership on price and value,” Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott said. Wal-Mart's profit rose to $2.65-billion (U.S.) or 63 cents a share in the third quarter that ended Oct. 31, up from $2.37-billion or 57 cents a year earlier. That was slightly below what analysts had expected, according to Reuters. Sales were up 12 per cent to $83.5-billion. But those figures include sales at newly opened stores and foreign stores. Sales at U.S. stores that have been open at least a year were up just 1.5 per cent, and Mr. Scott said fourth-quarter sales would rise just 1 to 2 per cent.

There is nothing to rationally justify the previous up move or mixed results in the market other than what is tantamount to a negative, and based upon spurious data from the government; ie., fake government numbers said total PPI rose a smaller than expected 0.1% (consensus 0.4%) in July, which was well below the 0.5% jump in June, while the more closely watched core rate (ex-food and energy) unexpectedly (RIIIIIGHT!) fell 0.3% (consensus +0.2%) -- the first decline since October and the largest drop since a 0.5% decline in April 2003. Home Sales Decline in 28 States, D.C.. Real estate prices down/stagnant. But housing stocks…..up.....riiiiight!.....in the fraudulent "alice-in-wonderland" lunatic world of wall street where down is up and up is down.  Martin Crutsinger, AP Economics Writer, previously wrote,” U.S. Trade Deficit Falls 0.3 Percent in June to $64.8B, Offsetting Jump in Chinese Imports. Dell Recall Stems From sony Production Flaw  WASHINGTON (AP) -- America's trade deficit showed a slight improvement as strong global growth pushed U.S. exports to a record level. That helped offset a surge in Chinese imports and record crude oil prices. The deficit declined 0.3 percent in June, compared with May, dropping to $64.8 billion, still the fifth largest imbalance on record, the Commerce Department reported Thursday. The deficit is running at an annual rate of $768 billion through the first six months of this year, putting the country on track to see a fifth straight record imbalance. Last year's deficit was $716.7 billion. Prior considerations remain apposite in this clearly overvalued market. The frauds on wall street feel compelled to continue their tradition/superstition/fraud tactic of buying on the rumor and selling on the news (fact) of the Fed’s temporary pause in rate hikes. You see, the facts/news do not rationally warrant holding dollar based securities/stocks but provide a means to scam the stupid money, to the benefit of the wall street frauds/scammers and smart money.  Yahoo previously commented: Friday was a wild day on Wall Street with early gains fueled by an encouraging July jobs report being wiped away as the return of concern tied to an economic slowdown outweighed the potential of a pause in tightening at Tuesday's Fed meeting. Before the bell, nonfarm payrolls rose a less than expected 113,000 and the unemployment rate rose for the first time since November, suggesting the labor market is losing steam and reinforcing the view that the economy is on track for a soft landing. To wit, fed funds futures were pricing in a 44% chance....., to which I responded, Wild..... I’ll give you wild: GM says their quarterly loss was $3.4 billion and not 3.2 billion as reported; Ford says their loss was $200 million dollars more than they previously reported and will now join gm in worker buyouts; but both GM and Ford will now offer built-in ipods which should substantially help their core business of building cars; meanwhile, options/accounting scandal/subterfuge occurring at the apple ipod (anything but computers) company. Analyst says GM good news now behind it (past/discounted), yet stock still rose upon said analysis …..riiiiight….. daaaaah! Apple Computer Inc. warned Thursday that it may have to revise its profits dating back to 2002 in a worsening stock option scandal, maybe even suspension, that has cast a harsh light on Silicon Valley's compensation practices. Don’t forget that GDP growth slowed substantially and below expectations at 2.5% which in the alice-in-wonderland lunatic world of wall street is of course good news. Stagflation? The fact is that no rational investor would choose dollar based stocks/securities when they could get less risky/liquid (approx.) 5% yielding cds, money market instruments, short-term treasuries/funds, etc.. However it’s not rational investors that are racking up commission dollars trading in and out of stocks like termites eating away at the huge capital funds which they control. Nothing constituting real value would account for the fraudulent rally mode this and other days. Highly leveraged obfuscating mergers/acquisitions, also very commissionable (investment bankers/brokers), and historically have more often than not ended quite badly; oil prices now above $61; yes, as in the last crash, they will get fooled again’ as stocks up sharply in the fraudulent alice-in-wonderland lunatic world of wall street where down is up and up is down. The stock market has never been so backward-looking. Indeed, amazingly, the pundits/analysts are even talking SEASONAL considerations in their fraud in the inducement which is the height of absurdity (such things are discounted well in advance in a rational market). The once objective, fact-oriented Barrons publication has now become a shill for the continuing fraud on wall street. Bush no conservative says Buckley (who also says that in Europe bush’s failed war policies would have required his expected resignation).....daaaaah!; neither are the hillbillies clintons and papa hillbilly bush. CNN's DOBBS BLASTS U.S. ISRAEL POLICY... BUCHANAN: 'Israel policy violates international law, is un-American and un-Christian'... The government is also catching on and playing the “better than expectations” game with the still very substantial deficit numbers, clouded by the use of social security funds used in the general fund rather than allocated for the defacto bankrupt social security system where they belong. ! Remember, leading economic indicators are down .6 percent continuing an ignored (by wall street frauds) downward trend/weakness extending back to the summer, 2005. Options scandal as was inherent in the (fraudulent) dotcom bust is extent and under way in nasdaq particularly. Spotlight on the Stock Option Scandal-The share prices of companies involved in stock options backdating have held up well compared to the broader market. But shareholders might be in for a rougher ride. Plus, why the Nasdaq has its hands full. I previously warned be very skeptical of up-coming government/corporate/collaborative/wall street data inasmuch as they are quite desperate and have proven [ie., illegal Iraq war/occupation, 911 attack(for the neocon contrived pearl harbor effect)/who ordered NORAD to stand down?/who were the pre911(within days) short-sellers?/ and the twin towers implosion, the missile that hit the pentagon precisely in the area that housed the army investigators who announced days before the opening of an investigation into a substantial pentagon fraud, etc.] that the truth is no obstacle when falsity is expedient and the lunatic frauds on wall street will try to tell you what’s up is down and what’s down is up. Lou Dobbs gets paid a lot of money to keep track of such things and doubts the verity of the government numbers. He is riiiiight! The catch-22 is that the defacto bankrupt u.s. is printing worthless paper (so much so that they’ve stopped reporting M3) and borrowing beyond sustainability, which is hyperinflationary despite false government numbers (ie., core inflation number to fraudulently decrease yield to ibond holders, etc.). Higher interest rates to prop worthless dollar and finance deficits inevitable despite wishin', hopin', and lyin’ to the contrary; foreclosures up, housing down, default notices up 67% (particularly in california, ie., orange, la, ventura, counties etc.) nationwide. Don’t forget: the equity in housing has been stripped out of real estate by way of the refinancing boom, which artificially stimulated the economic numbers while ultimately leaving buyers with debt exceeding actual property values. There is substantial downside bias in light of real economic considerations, particularly beyond the moment/trading day given that this bull (s**t) cycle in this indisputable secular bear market is over. Remember: more contrived wasteful commissions to the wall street frauds, the level and percentage of which should be examined in light of computerization and decreased costs attendant to same especially since only A Small Fraction Of What wall street Does Is A Net Positive For The Economy (New Investment Capital), The Rest Is Tantamount To A (Economically) "Wasteful Tax" (On The Economy) via 'churn and earn' computerized programmed trades.

US '.....going bankrupt'
By Edmund Conway, Economics Editor (Filed: 14/07/2006)

The United States is heading for bankruptcy, according to an extraordinary paper published by one of the key members of the country's central bank.

A ballooning budget deficit and a pensions and welfare timebomb could send the economic superpower into insolvency, according to research by Professor Laurence Kotlikoff for the Federal Reserve Bank of St Louis, a leading constituent of the US Federal Reserve.

Prof Kotlikoff said that, by some measures, the US is already bankrupt. "To paraphrase the Oxford English Dictionary, is the United States at the end of its resources, exhausted, stripped bare, destitute, bereft, wanting in property, or wrecked in consequence of failure to pay its creditors," he asked.

According to his central analysis, "the US government is, indeed, bankrupt, insofar as it will be unable to pay its creditors, who, in this context, are current and future generations to whom it has explicitly or implicitly promised future net payments of various kinds''.

The budget deficit in the US is not massive. The Bush administration this week cut its forecasts for the fiscal shortfall this year by almost a third, saying it will come in at 2.3pc of gross domestic product. This is smaller than most European countries - including the UK - which have deficits north of 3pc of GDP.

Prof Kotlikoff, who teaches at Boston University, says: "The proper way to consider a country's solvency is to examine the lifetime fiscal burdens facing current and future generations. If these burdens exceed the resources of those generations, get close to doing so, or simply get so high as to preclude their full collection, the country's policy will be unsustainable and can constitute or lead to national bankruptcy.

"Does the United States fit this bill? No one knows for sure, but there are strong reasons to believe the United States may be going broke."

Experts have calculated that the country's long-term "fiscal gap" between all future government spending and all future receipts will widen immensely as the Baby Boomer generation retires, and as the amount the state will have to spend on healthcare and pensions soars. The total fiscal gap could be an almost incomprehensible $65.9 trillion, according to a study by Professors Gokhale and Smetters.

The figure is massive because President George W Bush has made major tax cuts in recent years, and because the bill for Medicare, which provides health insurance for the elderly, and Medicaid, which does likewise for the poor, will increase greatly due to demographics.

Prof Kotlikoff said: "This figure is more than five times US GDP and almost twice the size of national wealth. One way to wrap one's head around $65.9trillion is to ask what fiscal adjustments are needed to eliminate this red hole. The answers are terrifying. One solution is an immediate and permanent doubling of personal and corporate income taxes. Another is an immediate and permanent two-thirds cut in Social Security and Medicare benefits. A third alternative, were it feasible, would be to immediately and permanently cut all federal discretionary spending by 143pc."

The scenario has serious implications for the dollar. If investors lose confidence in the US's future, and suspect the country may at some point allow inflation to erode away its debts, they may reduce their holdings of US Treasury bonds.

Prof Kotlikoff said: "The United States has experienced high rates of inflation in the past and appears to be running the same type of fiscal policies that engendered hyperinflations in 20 countries over the past century."

UPDATE - Two former NYSE traders found guilty of fraud

Stock market staggers, but investors still may be too optimistic

Commentary: Newsletters react to stock markets' losing week
By Peter Brimelow, MarketWatch  12:04 AM ET Jul 17, 2006
Investors may still be too optimistic
NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- First, a proprietary word: on Friday night, the Hulbert Stock Newsletter Sentiment Index (HSNSI), which reflects the average recommended stock market exposure among a subset of short-term market timing newsletters tracked by the Hulbert Financial Digest, stood at plus-23.8%. This was certainly below the 31.4% it showed on Tuesday night, when Mark Hulbert worried, presciently we must say, that it was too strong from a contrary opinion point of view. But it's still above its 12.6% reading at end of June, although, Mark pointed out, the stock market had declined in the interim. And since Mark wrote, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has had three triple-digit down days.

Not good.

Dow Theory Letters' Richard Russell wrote Friday morning: "If the Dow breaks support at 10,760, I think we could have some nasty action, even some crash-type action." But, perhaps significantly, Russell did not quite hit the panic button when the Dow did indeed close at 10,739 Friday night.

He simply remarked, supporting the contrary opinion view: "Three days in a row with the Dow down over 100 points each day -- you don't see that very often. But still no signs of real fear, no capitulation, no panic -- just down, down, and down. The key consideration here is that there is still no sign of big money coming into this market. In fact, the big money has been leaving this market all year. ... The longer the market continues down without a panic decline, the worse the ultimate panic will be when it arrives."

What is Wrong with the Stock Market?

Dr. Khaled Batarfi

 

John D. Rockefeller was once asked why he decided to sell all his stocks just months before the 1929 Wall Street Crash. He explained: One morning, I was on the way to my office and stopped to have my shoes polished. The guy asked my advice about the shares he bought. If people with this kind of talent were now playing the market, I knew there was something wrong.....

 

U.S. Treasury balances at Fed fell on July 17Tue Jul 18, 2006

WASHINGTON, July 18 (Reuters) - U.S. Treasury balances at the Federal Reserve, based on the Treasury Department's latest budget statement (billions of dollars, except where noted):

              July 17 July 14 (respectively)

Fed acct  4.087 4.935

Tax/loan note acct 10.502 10.155

Cash balance 14.589 15.192

National debt,

subject to limit 8,311.633 8,323.084

The statutory debt limit is $8.965 trillion.

The Treasury said there were $192 million in individual tax refunds and $23 million in corporate tax refunds issued.

End Of The Bubble Bailouts A. Gary Shilling, Insight 08.29.06 - For a quarter-century, Americans’ spending binge has been fueled by a declining savings rate and increased borrowing. The savings rate of American consumers has fallen from 12% in the early 1980s to -1.7% today (see chart below). This means that, on average, consumer spending has risen about a half percentage point more than disposable, or after-tax, income per year for a quarter-century.

The fact that Americans are saving less and less of their after-tax income is only half the profligate consumer story. If someone borrows to buy a car, his savings rate declines because his outlays go up but his disposable income doesn’t. So the downward march in the personal savings rate is closely linked to the upward march in total consumer debt (mortgage, credit card, auto, etc.) in relation to disposable income (see chart below).

Robust consumer spending was fueled first by the soaring stock market of the 1990s and, more recently, by the housing bubble, as house prices departed from their normal close link to the Consumer Price Index (see chart below) and subsequently racked up huge appreciation for homeowners, who continued to save less and spend more. Thanks to accommodative lenders eager to provide refinancings and home equity loans, Americans extracted $719 billion in cash from their houses last year after a $633 billion withdrawal in 2004, according to the Federal Reserve.

But the housing bubble is deflating rapidly. I expect at least a 20% decline in median single-family house prices nationwide, and that number may be way understated. A bursting of the bubble would force many homeowners to curb their outlays in order to close the gaps between their income and spending growth. That would surely precipitate a major recession that would become global, given the dependence of most foreign countries on U.S. consumers to buy the excess goods and services for which they have no other markets.

That is, unless another source of money can bridge the gap between consumer incomes and outlays, just as house appreciation seamlessly took over when stocks nosedived. What could that big new source of money be? And would it be available soon, given the likelihood that house prices will swoon in coming quarters?

One possible source of big, although not immediate, money to sustain consumer spending is inheritance. Some estimates in the 1990s had the postwar babies, who have saved little for their retirement, inheriting between $10 trillion and $41 trillion from their parents in the coming decades. But subsequent work by AARP, using the Federal Reserve’s Survey of Consumer Finances for 2004 and previous years, slashed the total for inheritances of all people alive today to $12 trillion in 2005 dollars. Most of it, $9.2 trillion, will go to pre-boomers born before 1946, only $2.1 trillion to the postwar babies born between 1946 and 1964, and $0.7 trillion to the post-boomers.

Furthermore, the value of all previous inheritances as reported in the 2004 survey was $49,902 on average, with $70,317 for pre-boomers, $48,768 for boomers and $24,348 for post-boomers. Clearly, these are not numbers that provide for comfortable retirements and, therefore, allow people to continue to spend like drunken sailors.

What other assets could consumers borrow against or liquidate to support spending growth in the future? After all, they do have a lot of net worth, almost $54 trillion for households and nonprofit organizations as of the end of the first quarter. Nevertheless, there aren’t any other big assets left to tap. Another big stock bonanza is unlikely for decades, and the real estate bubble is deflating.

Deposits total $6.3 trillion, but the majority, $4.9 trillion worth, is in time and savings deposits, largely held for retirement by financially conservative people. Is it likely that a speculator who owns five houses has sizable time deposits to fall back on? Households and nonprofits hold $3.2 trillion in bonds and other credit market instruments, but most owned by individuals are in conservative hands. Life insurance reserves can be borrowed, but their total size, $1.1 trillion, pales in comparison to the $1.8 trillion that homeowners extracted from their houses in the 2003-2005 years. There’s $6.7 trillion of equity in noncorporate business, but the vast majority of that is needed by typically cash-poor small businesses to keep their doors open.

Pension funds might be a source of cash for consumers who want to live it up now and take the Scarlett O’Hara, “I’ll worry about that tomorrow” attitude toward retirement. They totaled $11.1 trillion in the first quarter, but that number includes public funds and private defined benefit plans that are seldom available to pre-retirees unless they leave their jobs.

The private defined contribution plans, typically 401(k)s, totaled $2.5 trillion in 2004 and have been growing rapidly because employers favor them. But sadly, many employees, especially those at lower income levels, don’t share their bosses’ zeal. Only about 70% participate in their company 401(k) plans and thereby take advantage of company contributions. Lower paid employees are especially absent from participation, with 40% of those making less than $20,000 contributing (60% of those earning $20,000 to $40,000), while 90% of employees earning $100,000 or more participate.

Furthermore, the amount that employees could net from withdrawals from defined contribution plans would be far less than the $2.5 trillion total, probably less than the $1.8 trillion they pulled out of their houses from 2003 to 2005. That $2.5 trillion total includes company contributions that are not yet vested and can’t be withdrawn. Also, withdrawals by those under 59½ years old are subject to a 10% penalty, with income taxes due on the remainder.

With soaring stock portfolios now ancient history and leaping house prices about to be, no other sources, such as inheritance or pension fund withdrawals, are likely to fill the gap between robust consumer spending and weak income growth. Consumer retrenchment and the saving spree I’ve been expecting may finally be about to commence. And the effects on consumer behavior, especially on borrowing and discretionary spending, will be broad and deep.

Analysts' Forecasts and Brokerage-Firm Trading
THE ACCOUNTING REVIEW Vol. 79, No. 1 2004 pp. 125–149 Analysts’ Forecasts and
Brokerage-Firm Trading
Paul J. Irvine Emory University University of Georgia
Collectively, these results suggest that analysts can generate higher trading commissions through their positive stock recommendations than by biasing their forecasts.

WHISPERS OF MERGERS SET OFF BOUTS OF SUSPICIOUS TRADING...
August 27, 2006 NYTimes By GRETCHEN MORGENSONThe boom in corporate mergers is creating concern that illicit trading ahead of deal announcements is becoming a systemic problem.

(12-11-06) Waning full moon and roaring suckers bear market rally is nothing less than a defacto fraud by the lunatic frauds on wall street to suck the suckers in; ie., as the Dow Jones industrial average up 20, Standard & Poor's 500 index up 3, and the Nasdaq composite index up 5, all very commissionable on heavy volume as in final pre-election result push for bush, which fell very short. Fake employment numbers (from the government.....riiiiight!) the impetus for b.s. rally despite falling sentiment and uptick in unemployment. Can you imagine that a member of congress actually said that the social security surplus (actually usurped funds used in the general fund and never really extent) has been wiped out, particularly owing to allocations for funding (corporate welfare/profiteering) the illegal Iraq war.....daaaaah! Where do they get these frauds/dummies? The ISM services index (financed by unsustainable deficit/debt spending and pushing/commissioning worthless paper) and jawboning/bulls**t from the housing industry (the end is near.....riiiiight!), obfuscating mergers continued to cloud the picture, closely-watched core-PCE deflator had risen a more than expected 0.2%, second sub-50 reading on manufacturing activity in as many sessions-the November ISM index unexpectedly fell to 49.5 (consensus 52.0), Chicago PMI fell to its lowest level (49.9%) in October, and below the 50 level, indicating contraction, crude prices up  (OIL PRICES RISE ABOVE $63 A BARREL...), DOLLAR RESUMES SLIDE, Fed Chairman Bernanke & Co. cheerleading/jawboning/bulls**t, 3.2% decline in new home sales, oil inventories down and oil prices up, oil producers shun the dollar, Russia and Opec shift revenues into euros, yen and sterling...,all very bad news anywhere but in the fraudulent alice-in-wonderland world of wall street. Durable goods orders fell sharply, sentiment down, but supposedly used home sales rose slightly (riiiiight.....who says; the realtors/government who have been talking up this bubble market?) albeit at sharply lower prices. DOLLAR PLUNGES TO NEAR 15-YEAR LOW  In other words, no good news to justify the ridiculous up move by the alice-in-wonderland frauds of wall street. Worthless dollar, triple deficits, stock/options scandals/corruption, as some speculate that fed is behind purchases/manipulation (through proxy) of worthless american paper now being shunned by more rational market players abroad.  MARKETS ROCKED BY LONG OVERDUE BUT STILL MODEST RELATIVE TO REALITY SHARP SLIDE IN DOLLAR...There has never been a time since 1929 when stock prices and p/e ratios were so irrationally high for this point in a bull cycle in this indisputable secular bear market, particularly with the existing unprecedented structural economic problems, ie., trade and budget deficits, worthless dollar, scandals, fraud, corruption , etc.. In fact, unemployment unexpectedly rose substantially and consumer sentiment unexpectedly but similarly realistically fell, both very negative exept in the  fraudulent alice-in-wonderland world of wall street. Indeed, the housing bubble bursting with ie., unexpected 14% decline in starts/permits, etc., led to rally in the fraudulent alice-in-wonderland world of wall street. Obfuscating mergers help preclude detection of this massive and pervasive fraud which defies analysis owing to these mergers. New talking pointing: dell numbers exceed expectations depending upon ongoing government scrutiny of their accounting practices.....riiiiight! More contrived manipulated markets and data well as that previous unexpected rise in that global hub of manufacturing activity, New York (worthless paper is their real product, etc.) …..riiiiight!….. underpins fraudulent up move. Reassuring Fed speak, also known as b**l s**t, along with IPO’s (get the suckers in at the highs as in late 90’s market bubble), and shrugging off pervasive stock/options fraud as at, ie., KB Homes, etc., leave stocks ridiculously higher. Nations leaving the worthless dollar in droves for currencies backed by value and for precious metals. Based on the self-interested statement of typical fraud american and fed rep, we hear once again the wishful thought that housing has bottomed.....right! [Reality/Truth: US housing slump deepens, spreads]. Home depot rallies despite lower than expected results and lower guidance for the year.....right! Who is stupid enough to believe anything the fraudulent criminal americans say. They are printing worthless dollars like mad. Consumer sentiment actually previously fell and there was nothing but wall street lunacy to prop the fraudulent market. The republicans who lockstepped with war criminal dumbya bush deserved to lose. The frauds on wall street now looking for the new corporate welfare program for which to sell the sizzle ie., stem cells, etc.. The know-nothing pundits are now saying the up move without any rational basis is predicated upon the the falsity that gridlock in washington is welcomed and good because no regulation of, ie., fraud on wall street, etc., can be passed. How about a tax on stock trades to come directly from the traders' (traitors/frauds) bottom lines and provide a disincentive for the churn-and-earn fraud which is tantamount to a wasteful tax on the economy. Even token Christian paulison from jew fraud wall street couldn't stem the tide against the blatent zionist/neocon/bush co failure accross the board as the wall street frauds show record profits financed, albeit indirectly, by huge deficits, both trade and budget. Obfuscating mergers blur the picture to provide cover for up move talking points in defiance of reality.  Stagflation and full employment revisions pre-election.....riiiiight. Productivity comes in at a less than expected 0 (inflationary). The only surprise should have been that the number wasn't negative. The pundits are now saying that the market/wall street fraud is in a state of denial regarding economic fundamentals and that the market is substantially overbought, overvalued, overfrauded, over, etc., the manufacturing index coming in lower than expectations. Consumer sentiment unexpectedly fell.....daaaaah. Pre-election core inflation rate report good …..riiiiight…..but savings rate still negative and walmart sales/profits/outlook substantially below expectations but what the heck, they’re wallstreet lunatics/frauds and reality is no problem. Despite pre-election deficit spending, GNP comes in a less than expected paltry 1.6% increase with worthless falling dollar the catch-22 precluding reality avoidance and the worst yet to come. More nations leaving the worthless dollar as reserve currency even as frauds on wall street reach new highs (What are they smoking? Coking? or like the dollar just cracking) based on corporate welfare flows with money the nation doesn't have pre-election (record deficits). Housing prices continue their sharp decline as bubble deflates. GM only lost 115 million. Ford lost 5.8 billion and must restate earnings back to year 2000 is a bullish sign in the fraudulent alice-in-wonderland lunatic world of wall street. Typical pre-fed meeting rally to provide a cushion for any negative pronouncements which reality would require but are seldom forthcoming by the accommodative frauds who have similarly embraced unreality. Indeed, the gutless wimps of wall street think they're "tough" when they fraudulently take the market higher despite a clearly contrary fact based reality. Caterpillar relates the pervasive reality and the frauds on wallstreet intimidate same with sell off, ignoring pervasive options scandal/fraud and rallies Merck despite lower than expectation results.....riiiiight! Election year corporate welfare to prime the pump and the mock stock market with money the nation doesn’t have (increasing already huge deficits). CPI figures (upon which government inflation adjusted payment obligations are based) lower than expected…..riiiiight! Intel earnings/revenues down sharply but according to the lunatic frauds on wall street, beat expectations and stock rallies along with yahoo which as in the pre-dot com bust days says better days are a coming….. riiiiight Core inflation rate which is closely watched by the Fed exceeds all expectations. Fraud Merrill Lynch has really been pushing and commissioning that worthless paper and reports record earnings, despite having produced nothing and for very little if any value added (that ill-gotten money has to come from somewhere-your pockets?). The big economic report awaiting scrutiny was the monthly trade deficit which was expected to narrow but in fact INCREASED to 69.9 billion. The alice-in-wonderland lunatic wall street frauds rallied on the news as the dollar precipitously fell. The Fed Chairman said there is a "substantial correction" in housing, which will probably shave about 1% off growth in the second half of the year. The Institute of Supply Management said its services index fell to 52.9 in September -- the lowest level since April 2003. Great News….. riiiiight!..... Consumer Confidence Higher Than Expected... riiiiight!..... and housing starts were down sharply but not-as-bad-as-expectations game in play US Existing Home Sales Fall 0.5% in August; Sales Price Drops Existing-home prices fall for 1st time in 11 years along with fed jaw-boning pre-election that inflation has been licked .....riiiiight …..despite printing worthless dollars like they’re going out of style because they really are! Fed did nothing and stocks rallied, pre-election.....riiiiight! What about the reality of u.s. debt service at a record unsustainable $2 billion per day on a revolving $2 trillion charge account with ie., China, etc.. The fact that foreclosures are up and that there is projected new trade deficit record, fake government inflation numbers for election year purposes, housing starts down 6% means little to the alice-in-wonderland lunatic frauds of wall street and the so-called pundits including yahoo below. Almost all computerized volume is and must be considered heavy, manipulated, economically wasteful volume [stocks move contrary to rational analytical facts (ie., exceeded lowered expectations, things so bad interest rates can’t rise, exceeded expectations, no earnings but outlook extraordinary, the fed says booo as they print more worthless dollars to finance deficits, etc. ) is money in the bank for the frauds on wall street when they unwind said irrational positions ]. Philadelphia Federal Reserve announces that its broadest measure of manufacturing activity fell to a negative reading for the first time since April 2003, leading economic indicators fall .2%, and previously fell .1% though expected to show an increase, and in addition to the larger than expected 4.1% drop in July existing home sales to its lowest level in over two years and lifted inventories to record levels , new home sales fell 4.3%, and a larger than expected 2.4% decline in July durable orders which are negatives anywhere but in the alice-in-wonderland lunatic world of wall street where same is greeted as good news as also follows with b**l s**t from Yahoo (which didn’t even reference the record unanticipated trade gap):

Ex-Enron CEO Skilling Gets Prison Delay
AP - The former Enron chief who once resided in a $4.7 million, Mediterranean-style mansion in Houston's toniest neighborhood will get a bit of a reprieve before he must report to prison, where he would likely have three roommates in a converted college dorm room.

Nissan: No Need to Merge With New Partner AP
Drought Keeps Cotton Crop Down
AP
Dow Ends Up 21 As Investors Wait for Fed
AP
Mortgage Delinquencies a Rising Threat
AP

4:20 post meridian : The major averages picked up where they left off Friday, trading higher, as possible deal making and key sector leadership helped investors kick off what is expected to be this month's busiest week of earnings and economic data. However, market gains were modest at best as participants prepared to turn their focus to Tuesday's closely-watched FOMC meeting. While it is a foregone conclusion policy makers will leave rates unchanged for a fourth straight time tomorrow afternoon, uncertainty as to the wording of the policy directive and whether it will reveal any clues pertaining to the timing of an eventual cut in interest rates acted as a bit of an overhang. Helping the bulls temporarily shrug off early Fed-related nervousness and extend Friday's gains was follow-through buying in Friday's best performing Dow component -- Citigroup (C 52.83 +0.98). After surging 2.3% amid speculation of a management change and a possible break-up, the bellwether bank hit a new 2 1/2-year high after tacking on another 1.9% to pace the way higher on the price-weighted index. Bank of America (BAC 52.17 +0.51) more than erasing the 1.6% lost a day earlier, an analyst upgrade on JP Morgan Chase (JPM 47.56 +0.80) and a nearly 1.0% gain for fellow Dow component American International Group (AIG 71.00 +0.65), which agreed to buy some Dubai port operations, provided additional sector support. Other potential deals providing a vote of confidence about future growth included reports that Sabre Holdings (TSG 30.44 +2.12) is on the auction block and that Smith & Nephew (SNN 48.32 +0.75) is close to bidding about $11 bln for Biomet (BMET 41.56 +1.66). Telecom was the day's other big gainer, extending its year-to-date gain to more than 30% after the FCC's top lawyer authorized a commission member to vote on the proposed multi-billion dollar AT&T (T 35.23 +0.26) and BellSouth (BLS 46.23 +0.37) deal. DJ30 +20.99 NASDAQ +5.50 SP500 +3.20 NASDAQ Dec/Adv/Vol 1493/1556/1.83 bln NYSE Dec/Adv/Vol 1346/1936/1.25 bln
3:30 post meridian : Range-bound trading persists in stocks as trading enters the final stretch. Seven out of 10 sectors are posting gains, but turnarounds in Energy and Health Care barely qualify as gains since they're basically unchanged. Fortunately for the bulls, the bulk of leadership continues to come from the two most influential S&P sectors -- Financials and Technology; but it remains to be seen if both can continue to lend enough support going into the close with uncertainty tied to tomorrow's policy directive still looming.

U.S. HOUSING SLUMP DEEPENS, SPREADS
BARRIE MCKENNA Washington — First, Americans quit buying homes. Now, they may have stopped fixing and furnishing them too. Home Depot Inc. reported a 3-per-cent drop in profit in the three months that ended in October, amid mounting evidence that the U.S. housing slump is getting worse. “I don't think we've seen the bottom yet, and I don't see anything that says it's going to get significantly better in 2007,” said Bob Nardelli, Home Depot's chairman and chief executive officer. Mr. Nardelli said job losses in the home construction market are the worst he's seen in 35 years, and the pain is starting to spread to the home renovation market. “The loss of jobs ... in the home construction market is at unprecedented levels,” Mr. Nardelli told analysts on a conference call Tuesday. “Home builders [are] basically writing off earnest money and liquidating land. We're starting to see a lot of that unemployment find its way over to the small repair and remodel contractors.” Problems in the housing sector have also begun to affect how consumers spend their money. In October, U.S. retail sales fell at an annual rate of 0.2 per cent — the third consecutive monthly decline, according to a U.S. Commerce Department report Tuesday. The decline was heavily influenced by lower gasoline prices, which resulted in less revenue for gas stations. But there were also sharp declines in building materials (down 0.3 per cent), furniture (down 0.7 per cent) and department store sales (down 0.7 per cent). Over the past three months, sales of building materials have plunged at an annual rate of 10.6 per cent. “The housing slowdown left its grimy fingerprints all over this report,” BMO Nesbitt Burns economist Douglas Porter said in a note to clients. Lower gasoline prices don't seem to be causing consumers to spend elsewhere, as many economists had predicted. Even if you strip out volatile gas, food and auto sales, all other retail sales rose a meagre 0.1 per cent October. “People are being very cautious,” said Ian Shepherdson, chief North American economist at High Frequency Economics. “The housing crunch is now hurting.” At least two other bellwether U.S. retailers — Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Target Corp. — reported Tuesday that their sales and profit remain strong, in spite of the problems in the housing sector. But executives at Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, acknowledged that sales in the third quarter were disappointing and it is already vowing its biggest-ever discounting binge on items such as toys and electronics to keep cash registers ringing this Christmas. “This season, no one will doubt Wal-Mart's leadership on price and value,” Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott said. Wal-Mart's profit rose to $2.65-billion (U.S.) or 63 cents a share in the third quarter that ended Oct. 31, up from $2.37-billion or 57 cents a year earlier. That was slightly below what analysts had expected, according to Reuters. Sales were up 12 per cent to $83.5-billion. But those figures include sales at newly opened stores and foreign stores. Sales at U.S. stores that have been open at least a year were up just 1.5 per cent, and Mr. Scott said fourth-quarter sales would rise just 1 to 2 per cent.

There is nothing to rationally justify the previous up move or mixed results in the market other than what is tantamount to a negative, and based upon spurious data from the government; ie., fake government numbers said total PPI rose a smaller than expected 0.1% (consensus 0.4%) in July, which was well below the 0.5% jump in June, while the more closely watched core rate (ex-food and energy) unexpectedly (RIIIIIGHT!) fell 0.3% (consensus +0.2%) -- the first decline since October and the largest drop since a 0.5% decline in April 2003. Home Sales Decline in 28 States, D.C.. Real estate prices down/stagnant. But housing stocks…..up.....riiiiight!.....in the fraudulent "alice-in-wonderland" lunatic world of wall street where down is up and up is down.  Martin Crutsinger, AP Economics Writer, previously wrote,” U.S. Trade Deficit Falls 0.3 Percent in June to $64.8B, Offsetting Jump in Chinese Imports. Dell Recall Stems From sony Production Flaw  WASHINGTON (AP) -- America's trade deficit showed a slight improvement as strong global growth pushed U.S. exports to a record level. That helped offset a surge in Chinese imports and record crude oil prices. The deficit declined 0.3 percent in June, compared with May, dropping to $64.8 billion, still the fifth largest imbalance on record, the Commerce Department reported Thursday. The deficit is running at an annual rate of $768 billion through the first six months of this year, putting the country on track to see a fifth straight record imbalance. Last year's deficit was $716.7 billion. Prior considerations remain apposite in this clearly overvalued market. The frauds on wall street feel compelled to continue their tradition/superstition/fraud tactic of buying on the rumor and selling on the news (fact) of the Fed’s temporary pause in rate hikes. You see, the facts/news do not rationally warrant holding dollar based securities/stocks but provide a means to scam the stupid money, to the benefit of the wall street frauds/scammers and smart money.  Yahoo previously commented: Friday was a wild day on Wall Street with early gains fueled by an encouraging July jobs report being wiped away as the return of concern tied to an economic slowdown outweighed the potential of a pause in tightening at Tuesday's Fed meeting. Before the bell, nonfarm payrolls rose a less than expected 113,000 and the unemployment rate rose for the first time since November, suggesting the labor market is losing steam and reinforcing the view that the economy is on track for a soft landing. To wit, fed funds futures were pricing in a 44% chance....., to which I responded, Wild..... I’ll give you wild: GM says their quarterly loss was $3.4 billion and not 3.2 billion as reported; Ford says their loss was $200 million dollars more than they previously reported and will now join gm in worker buyouts; but both GM and Ford will now offer built-in ipods which should substantially help their core business of building cars; meanwhile, options/accounting scandal/subterfuge occurring at the apple ipod (anything but computers) company. Analyst says GM good news now behind it (past/discounted), yet stock still rose upon said analysis …..riiiiight….. daaaaah! Apple Computer Inc. warned Thursday that it may have to revise its profits dating back to 2002 in a worsening stock option scandal, maybe even suspension, that has cast a harsh light on Silicon Valley's compensation practices. Don’t forget that GDP growth slowed substantially and below expectations at 2.5% which in the alice-in-wonderland lunatic world of wall street is of course good news. Stagflation? The fact is that no rational investor would choose dollar based stocks/securities when they could get less risky/liquid (approx.) 5% yielding cds, money market instruments, short-term treasuries/funds, etc.. However it’s not rational investors that are racking up commission dollars trading in and out of stocks like termites eating away at the huge capital funds which they control. Nothing constituting real value would account for the fraudulent rally mode this and other days. Highly leveraged obfuscating mergers/acquisitions, also very commissionable (investment bankers/brokers), and historically have more often than not ended quite badly; oil prices now above $61; yes, as in the last crash, they will get fooled again’ as stocks up sharply in the fraudulent alice-in-wonderland lunatic world of wall street where down is up and up is down. The stock market has never been so backward-looking. Indeed, amazingly, the pundits/analysts are even talking SEASONAL considerations in their fraud in the inducement which is the height of absurdity (such things are discounted well in advance in a rational market). The once objective, fact-oriented Barrons publication has now become a shill for the continuing fraud on wall street. Bush no conservative says Buckley (who also says that in Europe bush’s failed war policies would have required his expected resignation).....daaaaah!; neither are the hillbillies clintons and papa hillbilly bush. CNN's DOBBS BLASTS U.S. ISRAEL POLICY... BUCHANAN: 'Israel policy violates international law, is un-American and un-Christian'... The government is also catching on and playing the “better than expectations” game with the still very substantial deficit numbers, clouded by the use of social security funds used in the general fund rather than allocated for the defacto bankrupt social security system where they belong. ! Remember, leading economic indicators are down .6 percent continuing an ignored (by wall street frauds) downward trend/weakness extending back to the summer, 2005. Options scandal as was inherent in the (fraudulent) dotcom bust is extent and under way in nasdaq particularly. Spotlight on the Stock Option Scandal-The share prices of companies involved in stock options backdating have held up well compared to the broader market. But shareholders might be in for a rougher ride. Plus, why the Nasdaq has its hands full. I previously warned be very skeptical of up-coming government/corporate/collaborative/wall street data inasmuch as they are quite desperate and have proven [ie., illegal Iraq war/occupation, 911 attack(for the neocon contrived pearl harbor effect)/who ordered NORAD to stand down?/who were the pre911(within days) short-sellers?/ and the twin towers implosion, the missile that hit the pentagon precisely in the area that housed the army investigators who announced days before the opening of an investigation into a substantial pentagon fraud, etc.] that the truth is no obstacle when falsity is expedient and the lunatic frauds on wall street will try to tell you what’s up is down and what’s down is up. Lou Dobbs gets paid a lot of money to keep track of such things and doubts the verity of the government numbers. He is riiiiight! The catch-22 is that the defacto bankrupt u.s. is printing worthless paper (so much so that they’ve stopped reporting M3) and borrowing beyond sustainability, which is hyperinflationary despite false government numbers (ie., core inflation number to fraudulently decrease yield to ibond holders, etc.). Higher interest rates to prop worthless dollar and finance deficits inevitable despite wishin', hopin', and lyin’ to the contrary; foreclosures up, housing down, default notices up 67% (particularly in california, ie., orange, la, ventura, counties etc.) nationwide. Don’t forget: the equity in housing has been stripped out of real estate by way of the refinancing boom, which artificially stimulated the economic numbers while ultimately leaving buyers with debt exceeding actual property values. There is substantial downside bias in light of real economic considerations, particularly beyond the moment/trading day given that this bull (s**t) cycle in this indisputable secular bear market is over. Remember: more contrived wasteful commissions to the wall street frauds, the level and percentage of which should be examined in light of computerization and decreased costs attendant to same especially since only A Small Fraction Of What wall street Does Is A Net Positive For The Economy (New Investment Capital), The Rest Is Tantamount To A (Economically) "Wasteful Tax" (On The Economy) via 'churn and earn' computerized programmed trades.

US '.....going bankrupt'
By Edmund Conway, Economics Editor (Filed: 14/07/2006)

The United States is heading for bankruptcy, according to an extraordinary paper published by one of the key members of the country's central bank.

A ballooning budget deficit and a pensions and welfare timebomb could send the economic superpower into insolvency, according to research by Professor Laurence Kotlikoff for the Federal Reserve Bank of St Louis, a leading constituent of the US Federal Reserve.

Prof Kotlikoff said that, by some measures, the US is already bankrupt. "To paraphrase the Oxford English Dictionary, is the United States at the end of its resources, exhausted, stripped bare, destitute, bereft, wanting in property, or wrecked in consequence of failure to pay its creditors," he asked.

According to his central analysis, "the US government is, indeed, bankrupt, insofar as it will be unable to pay its creditors, who, in this context, are current and future generations to whom it has explicitly or implicitly promised future net payments of various kinds''.

The budget deficit in the US is not massive. The Bush administration this week cut its forecasts for the fiscal shortfall this year by almost a third, saying it will come in at 2.3pc of gross domestic product. This is smaller than most European countries - including the UK - which have deficits north of 3pc of GDP.

Prof Kotlikoff, who teaches at Boston University, says: "The proper way to consider a country's solvency is to examine the lifetime fiscal burdens facing current and future generations. If these burdens exceed the resources of those generations, get close to doing so, or simply get so high as to preclude their full collection, the country's policy will be unsustainable and can constitute or lead to national bankruptcy.

"Does the United States fit this bill? No one knows for sure, but there are strong reasons to believe the United States may be going broke."

Experts have calculated that the country's long-term "fiscal gap" between all future government spending and all future receipts will widen immensely as the Baby Boomer generation retires, and as the amount the state will have to spend on healthcare and pensions soars. The total fiscal gap could be an almost incomprehensible $65.9 trillion, according to a study by Professors Gokhale and Smetters.

The figure is massive because President George W Bush has made major tax cuts in recent years, and because the bill for Medicare, which provides health insurance for the elderly, and Medicaid, which does likewise for the poor, will increase greatly due to demographics.

Prof Kotlikoff said: "This figure is more than five times US GDP and almost twice the size of national wealth. One way to wrap one's head around $65.9trillion is to ask what fiscal adjustments are needed to eliminate this red hole. The answers are terrifying. One solution is an immediate and permanent doubling of personal and corporate income taxes. Another is an immediate and permanent two-thirds cut in Social Security and Medicare benefits. A third alternative, were it feasible, would be to immediately and permanently cut all federal discretionary spending by 143pc."

The scenario has serious implications for the dollar. If investors lose confidence in the US's future, and suspect the country may at some point allow inflation to erode away its debts, they may reduce their holdings of US Treasury bonds.

Prof Kotlikoff said: "The United States has experienced high rates of inflation in the past and appears to be running the same type of fiscal policies that engendered hyperinflations in 20 countries over the past century."

UPDATE - Two former NYSE traders found guilty of fraud

Stock market staggers, but investors still may be too optimistic

Commentary: Newsletters react to stock markets' losing week
By Peter Brimelow, MarketWatch  12:04 AM ET Jul 17, 2006
Investors may still be too optimistic
NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- First, a proprietary word: on Friday night, the Hulbert Stock Newsletter Sentiment Index (HSNSI), which reflects the average recommended stock market exposure among a subset of short-term market timing newsletters tracked by the Hulbert Financial Digest, stood at plus-23.8%. This was certainly below the 31.4% it showed on Tuesday night, when Mark Hulbert worried, presciently we must say, that it was too strong from a contrary opinion point of view. But it's still above its 12.6% reading at end of June, although, Mark pointed out, the stock market had declined in the interim. And since Mark wrote, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has had three triple-digit down days.

Not good.

Dow Theory Letters' Richard Russell wrote Friday morning: "If the Dow breaks support at 10,760, I think we could have some nasty action, even some crash-type action." But, perhaps significantly, Russell did not quite hit the panic button when the Dow did indeed close at 10,739 Friday night.

He simply remarked, supporting the contrary opinion view: "Three days in a row with the Dow down over 100 points each day -- you don't see that very often. But still no signs of real fear, no capitulation, no panic -- just down, down, and down. The key consideration here is that there is still no sign of big money coming into this market. In fact, the big money has been leaving this market all year. ... The longer the market continues down without a panic decline, the worse the ultimate panic will be when it arrives."

What is Wrong with the Stock Market?

Dr. Khaled Batarfi

 

John D. Rockefeller was once asked why he decided to sell all his stocks just months before the 1929 Wall Street Crash. He explained: One morning, I was on the way to my office and stopped to have my shoes polished. The guy asked my advice about the shares he bought. If people with this kind of talent were now playing the market, I knew there was something wrong.....

 

U.S. Treasury balances at Fed fell on July 17Tue Jul 18, 2006

WASHINGTON, July 18 (Reuters) - U.S. Treasury balances at the Federal Reserve, based on the Treasury Department's latest budget statement (billions of dollars, except where noted):

              July 17 July 14 (respectively)

Fed acct  4.087 4.935

Tax/loan note acct 10.502 10.155

Cash balance 14.589 15.192

National debt,

subject to limit 8,311.633 8,323.084

The statutory debt limit is $8.965 trillion.

The Treasury said there were $192 million in individual tax refunds and $23 million in corporate tax refunds issued.

End Of The Bubble Bailouts A. Gary Shilling, Insight 08.29.06 - For a quarter-century, Americans’ spending binge has been fueled by a declining savings rate and increased borrowing. The savings rate of American consumers has fallen from 12% in the early 1980s to -1.7% today (see chart below). This means that, on average, consumer spending has risen about a half percentage point more than disposable, or after-tax, income per year for a quarter-century.

The fact that Americans are saving less and less of their after-tax income is only half the profligate consumer story. If someone borrows to buy a car, his savings rate declines because his outlays go up but his disposable income doesn’t. So the downward march in the personal savings rate is closely linked to the upward march in total consumer debt (mortgage, credit card, auto, etc.) in relation to disposable income (see chart below).

Robust consumer spending was fueled first by the soaring stock market of the 1990s and, more recently, by the housing bubble, as house prices departed from their normal close link to the Consumer Price Index (see chart below) and subsequently racked up huge appreciation for homeowners, who continued to save less and spend more. Thanks to accommodative lenders eager to provide refinancings and home equity loans, Americans extracted $719 billion in cash from their houses last year after a $633 billion withdrawal in 2004, according to the Federal Reserve.

But the housing bubble is deflating rapidly. I expect at least a 20% decline in median single-family house prices nationwide, and that number may be way understated. A bursting of the bubble would force many homeowners to curb their outlays in order to close the gaps between their income and spending growth. That would surely precipitate a major recession that would become global, given the dependence of most foreign countries on U.S. consumers to buy the excess goods and services for which they have no other markets.

That is, unless another source of money can bridge the gap between consumer incomes and outlays, just as house appreciation seamlessly took over when stocks nosedived. What could that big new source of money be? And would it be available soon, given the likelihood that house prices will swoon in coming quarters?

One possible source of big, although not immediate, money to sustain consumer spending is inheritance. Some estimates in the 1990s had the postwar babies, who have saved little for their retirement, inheriting between $10 trillion and $41 trillion from their parents in the coming decades. But subsequent work by AARP, using the Federal Reserve’s Survey of Consumer Finances for 2004 and previous years, slashed the total for inheritances of all people alive today to $12 trillion in 2005 dollars. Most of it, $9.2 trillion, will go to pre-boomers born before 1946, only $2.1 trillion to the postwar babies born between 1946 and 1964, and $0.7 trillion to the post-boomers.

Furthermore, the value of all previous inheritances as reported in the 2004 survey was $49,902 on average, with $70,317 for pre-boomers, $48,768 for boomers and $24,348 for post-boomers. Clearly, these are not numbers that provide for comfortable retirements and, therefore, allow people to continue to spend like drunken sailors.

What other assets could consumers borrow against or liquidate to support spending growth in the future? After all, they do have a lot of net worth, almost $54 trillion for households and nonprofit organizations as of the end of the first quarter. Nevertheless, there aren’t any other big assets left to tap. Another big stock bonanza is unlikely for decades, and the real estate bubble is deflating.

Deposits total $6.3 trillion, but the majority, $4.9 trillion worth, is in time and savings deposits, largely held for retirement by financially conservative people. Is it likely that a speculator who owns five houses has sizable time deposits to fall back on? Households and nonprofits hold $3.2 trillion in bonds and other credit market instruments, but most owned by individuals are in conservative hands. Life insurance reserves can be borrowed, but their total size, $1.1 trillion, pales in comparison to the $1.8 trillion that homeowners extracted from their houses in the 2003-2005 years. There’s $6.7 trillion of equity in noncorporate business, but the vast majority of that is needed by typically cash-poor small businesses to keep their doors open.

Pension funds might be a source of cash for consumers who want to live it up now and take the Scarlett O’Hara, “I’ll worry about that tomorrow” attitude toward retirement. They totaled $11.1 trillion in the first quarter, but that number includes public funds and private defined benefit plans that are seldom available to pre-retirees unless they leave their jobs.

The private defined contribution plans, typically 401(k)s, totaled $2.5 trillion in 2004 and have been growing rapidly because employers favor them. But sadly, many employees, especially those at lower income levels, don’t share their bosses’ zeal. Only about 70% participate in their company 401(k) plans and thereby take advantage of company contributions. Lower paid employees are especially absent from participation, with 40% of those making less than $20,000 contributing (60% of those earning $20,000 to $40,000), while 90% of employees earning $100,000 or more participate.

Furthermore, the amount that employees could net from withdrawals from defined contribution plans would be far less than the $2.5 trillion total, probably less than the $1.8 trillion they pulled out of their houses from 2003 to 2005. That $2.5 trillion total includes company contributions that are not yet vested and can’t be withdrawn. Also, withdrawals by those under 59½ years old are subject to a 10% penalty, with income taxes due on the remainder.

With soaring stock portfolios now ancient history and leaping house prices about to be, no other sources, such as inheritance or pension fund withdrawals, are likely to fill the gap between robust consumer spending and weak income growth. Consumer retrenchment and the saving spree I’ve been expecting may finally be about to commence. And the effects on consumer behavior, especially on borrowing and discretionary spending, will be broad and deep.

Analysts' Forecasts and Brokerage-Firm Trading
THE ACCOUNTING REVIEW Vol. 79, No. 1 2004 pp. 125–149 Analysts’ Forecasts and
Brokerage-Firm Trading
Paul J. Irvine Emory University University of Georgia
Collectively, these results suggest that analysts can generate higher trading commissions through their positive stock recommendations than by biasing their forecasts.

WHISPERS OF MERGERS SET OFF BOUTS OF SUSPICIOUS TRADING...
August 27, 2006 NYTimes By GRETCHEN MORGENSONThe boom in corporate mergers is creating concern that illicit trading ahead of deal announcements is becoming a systemic problem.

(12-08-06) Waning full moon and hence, roaring suckers bear market rally is nothing less than a defacto fraud by the lunatic frauds on wall street to suck the suckers in; ie., as the Dow Jones industrial average up 29, Standard & Poor's 500 index up 2, and the Nasdaq composite index up 5, all very commissionable on heavy volume as in final pre-election result push for bush, which fell very short. Fake employment numbers (from the government.....riiiiight!) the impetus for b.s. rally despite falling sentiment and uptick in unemployment. Can you imagine that a member of congress actually said that the social security surplus (actually usurped funds used in the general fund and never really extent) has been wiped out, particularly owing to allocations for funding (corporate welfare/profiteering) the illegal Iraq war.....daaaaah! Where do they get these frauds/dummies? The ISM services index (financed by unsustainable deficit/debt spending and pushing/commissioning worthless paper) and jawboning/bulls**t from the housing industry (the end is near.....riiiiight!), obfuscating mergers continued to cloud the picture, closely-watched core-PCE deflator had risen a more than expected 0.2%, second sub-50 reading on manufacturing activity in as many sessions-the November ISM index unexpectedly fell to 49.5 (consensus 52.0), Chicago PMI fell to its lowest level (49.9%) in October, and below the 50 level, indicating contraction, crude prices up  (OIL PRICES RISE ABOVE $63 A BARREL...), DOLLAR RESUMES SLIDE, Fed Chairman Bernanke & Co. cheerleading/jawboning/bulls**t, 3.2% decline in new home sales, oil inventories down and oil prices up, all very bad news anywhere but in the fraudulent alice-in-wonderland world of wall street. Durable goods orders fell sharply, sentiment down, but supposedly used home sales rose slightly (riiiiight.....who says; the realtors/government who have been talking up this bubble market?) albeit at sharply lower prices. DOLLAR PLUNGES TO NEAR 15-YEAR LOW  In other words, no good news to justify the ridiculous up move by the alice-in-wonderland frauds of wall street. Worthless dollar, triple deficits, stock/options scandals/corruption, as some speculate that fed is behind purchases/manipulation (through proxy) of worthless american paper now being shunned by more rational market players abroad.  MARKETS ROCKED BY LONG OVERDUE BUT STILL MODEST RELATIVE TO REALITY SHARP SLIDE IN DOLLAR...There has never been a time since 1929 when stock prices and p/e ratios were so irrationally high for this point in a bull cycle in this indisputable secular bear market, particularly with the existing unprecedented structural economic problems, ie., trade and budget deficits, worthless dollar, scandals, fraud, corruption , etc.. In fact, unemployment unexpectedly rose substantially and consumer sentiment unexpectedly but similarly realistically fell, both very negative exept in the  fraudulent alice-in-wonderland world of wall street. Indeed, the housing bubble bursting with ie., unexpected 14% decline in starts/permits, etc., led to rally in the fraudulent alice-in-wonderland world of wall street. Obfuscating mergers help preclude detection of this massive and pervasive fraud which defies analysis owing to these mergers. New talking pointing: dell numbers exceed expectations depending upon ongoing government scrutiny of their accounting practices.....riiiiight! More contrived manipulated markets and data well as that previous unexpected rise in that global hub of manufacturing activity, New York (worthless paper is their real product, etc.) …..riiiiight!….. underpins fraudulent up move. Reassuring Fed speak, also known as b**l s**t, along with IPO’s (get the suckers in at the highs as in late 90’s market bubble), and shrugging off pervasive stock/options fraud as at, ie., KB Homes, etc., leave stocks ridiculously higher. Nations leaving the worthless dollar in droves for currencies backed by value and for precious metals. Based on the self-interested statement of typical fraud american and fed rep, we hear once again the wishful thought that housing has bottomed.....right! [Reality/Truth: US housing slump deepens, spreads]. Home depot rallies despite lower than expected results and lower guidance for the year.....right! Who is stupid enough to believe anything the fraudulent criminal americans say. They are printing worthless dollars like mad. Consumer sentiment actually previously fell and there was nothing but wall street lunacy to prop the fraudulent market. The republicans who lockstepped with war criminal dumbya bush deserved to lose. The frauds on wall street now looking for the new corporate welfare program for which to sell the sizzle ie., stem cells, etc.. The know-nothing pundits are now saying the up move without any rational basis is predicated upon the the falsity that gridlock in washington is welcomed and good because no regulation of, ie., fraud on wall street, etc., can be passed. How about a tax on stock trades to come directly from the traders' (traitors/frauds) bottom lines and provide a disincentive for the churn-and-earn fraud which is tantamount to a wasteful tax on the economy. Even token Christian paulison from jew fraud wall street couldn't stem the tide against the blatent zionist/neocon/bush co failure accross the board as the wall street frauds show record profits financed, albeit indirectly, by huge deficits, both trade and budget. Obfuscating mergers blur the picture to provide cover for up move talking points in defiance of reality.  Stagflation and full employment revisions pre-election.....riiiiight. Productivity comes in at a less than expected 0 (inflationary). The only surprise should have been that the number wasn't negative. The pundits are now saying that the market/wall street fraud is in a state of denial regarding economic fundamentals and that the market is substantially overbought, overvalued, overfrauded, over, etc., the manufacturing index coming in lower than expectations. Consumer sentiment unexpectedly fell.....daaaaah. Pre-election core inflation rate report good …..riiiiight…..but savings rate still negative and walmart sales/profits/outlook substantially below expectations but what the heck, they’re wallstreet lunatics/frauds and reality is no problem. Despite pre-election deficit spending, GNP comes in a less than expected paltry 1.6% increase with worthless falling dollar the catch-22 precluding reality avoidance and the worst yet to come. More nations leaving the worthless dollar as reserve currency even as frauds on wall street reach new highs (What are they smoking? Coking? or like the dollar just cracking) based on corporate welfare flows with money the nation doesn't have pre-election (record deficits). Housing prices continue their sharp decline as bubble deflates. GM only lost 115 million. Ford lost 5.8 billion and must restate earnings back to year 2000 is a bullish sign in the fraudulent alice-in-wonderland lunatic world of wall street. Typical pre-fed meeting rally to provide a cushion for any negative pronouncements which reality would require but are seldom forthcoming by the accommodative frauds who have similarly embraced unreality. Indeed, the gutless wimps of wall street think they're "tough" when they fraudulently take the market higher despite a clearly contrary fact based reality. Caterpillar relates the pervasive reality and the frauds on wallstreet intimidate same with sell off, ignoring pervasive options scandal/fraud and rallies Merck despite lower than expectation results.....riiiiight! Election year corporate welfare to prime the pump and the mock stock market with money the nation doesn’t have (increasing already huge deficits). CPI figures (upon which government inflation adjusted payment obligations are based) lower than expected…..riiiiight! Intel earnings/revenues down sharply but according to the lunatic frauds on wall street, beat expectations and stock rallies along with yahoo which as in the pre-dot com bust days says better days are a coming….. riiiiight Core inflation rate which is closely watched by the Fed exceeds all expectations. Fraud Merrill Lynch has really been pushing and commissioning that worthless paper and reports record earnings, despite having produced nothing and for very little if any value added (that ill-gotten money has to come from somewhere-your pockets?). The big economic report awaiting scrutiny was the monthly trade deficit which was expected to narrow but in fact INCREASED to 69.9 billion. The alice-in-wonderland lunatic wall street frauds rallied on the news as the dollar precipitously fell. The Fed Chairman said there is a "substantial correction" in housing, which will probably shave about 1% off growth in the second half of the year. The Institute of Supply Management said its services index fell to 52.9 in September -- the lowest level since April 2003. Great News….. riiiiight!..... Consumer Confidence Higher Than Expected... riiiiight!..... and housing starts were down sharply but not-as-bad-as-expectations game in play US Existing Home Sales Fall 0.5% in August; Sales Price Drops Existing-home prices fall for 1st time in 11 years along with fed jaw-boning pre-election that inflation has been licked .....riiiiight …..despite printing worthless dollars like they’re going out of style because they really are! Fed did nothing and stocks rallied, pre-election.....riiiiight! What about the reality of u.s. debt service at a record unsustainable $2 billion per day on a revolving $2 trillion charge account with ie., China, etc.. The fact that foreclosures are up and that there is projected new trade deficit record, fake government inflation numbers for election year purposes, housing starts down 6% means little to the alice-in-wonderland lunatic frauds of wall street and the so-called pundits including yahoo below. Almost all computerized volume is and must be considered heavy, manipulated, economically wasteful volume [stocks move contrary to rational analytical facts (ie., exceeded lowered expectations, things so bad interest rates can’t rise, exceeded expectations, no earnings but outlook extraordinary, the fed says booo as they print more worthless dollars to finance deficits, etc. ) is money in the bank for the frauds on wall street when they unwind said irrational positions ]. Philadelphia Federal Reserve announces that its broadest measure of manufacturing activity fell to a negative reading for the first time since April 2003, leading economic indicators fall .2%, and previously fell .1% though expected to show an increase, and in addition to the larger than expected 4.1% drop in July existing home sales to its lowest level in over two years and lifted inventories to record levels , new home sales fell 4.3%, and a larger than expected 2.4% decline in July durable orders which are negatives anywhere but in the alice-in-wonderland lunatic world of wall street where same is greeted as good news as also follows with b**l s**t from Yahoo (which didn’t even reference the record unanticipated trade gap):

FCC: McDowell Can Vote on AT&T-Bellsouth
 
AP - The Federal Communications Commission's top lawyer on Friday authorized one of its members to vote on the proposed buyout of BellSouth Corp. by AT&T Inc., despite an apparent conflict of interest.
American Proposes Chicago-Beijing Route AP
More Jobs in Nov., Unemployment Up Too
AP
EU Opens Universal-BMG Antitrust Probe
AP
Bank of America May Buy Barclays
AP
 
After a choppy start to end the week, investors eventually garnered enough notable leadership in some key sectors to finally embrace a strong November jobs report and snap a two-day losing streak for stocks. Given the Fed's increased policy guidance from "incoming" data, today's employment report -- the last key piece of data policy makers will get their hands on before they meet next Tuesday -- garnered added attention. Before the bell, the Labor Dept. showed that nonfarm payrolls rose 132K in November (consensus 105K) while payrolls figures for October and September were upwardly revised to account for a net gain of 42K new jobs. With investors concerned about the pace of economic growth, continued payroll gains will keep consumer spending rising at a decent clip against moderate wage growth. Hourly earnings rose just 0.2%, below the 0.3% economists were anticipating, providing additional evidence of the Fed's sought after soft landing.With all of the S&P 500's impressive 13% year-to-date advance occurring over the last four months, however, concerns that the market has gone up too far too fast initially left investors questioning whether today's solid employment data had already been priced into equities. Fortunately for the bulls, early trepidation about overbought conditions was put to rest as the morning played out. After briefly using an unexpected decline in consumer sentiment as the latest excuse to take some money off the table, Citigroup (C 51.87 +1.16) spiking to a new 2 1/2-year high helped lift the indices into the green for good. The Dow component surged 2.3% amid speculation of a management change and a possible break-up. Perhaps giving Citigroup an added boost was some rotation out of rival Bank of America (BAC 51.58 -0.91), which Merrill Lynch believes is interested in acquiring Barclays (BCS 58.53 +2.74). Investors bidding up shares of investment banks in anticipation that several Wall Street firms (e.g. GS +2.5%, LEH +1.3%, and BSC +1.0%) will post record earnings results next week provided additional support for the most influential of S&P sectors -- Financials. U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson later praising the payrolls number and saying the economy is growing at a sustainable clip during a CNBC interview offered investors an additional vote of confidence. Of the seven other economic sectors trading higher, Technology was another influential leader to the upside. Two days of profit taking sparked some bargain hunting interest and helped investors look past some warnings in the chip space. Xilinx (XLNX 24.83 -1.61) plunged 5.3% after lowering its Q3 sales forecasts. A 1.9% surge in the sector's largest component -- Microsoft (MSFT 29.40 +0.55) -- was the biggest reason behind the sector's outperformance. Investors also applauded a late-day reversal in oil prices. Crude for January delivery, which was up nearly 2.0% earlier at two-month highs, closed down 0.6% near $62/bbl. Forecasts of milder weather conditions trumped concerns earlier in the day about potential supply disruptions tied to unrest in Nigeria. However, removal of key leadership from the Energy sector tarnished the earnings potential of a key contributor to profit growth for the S&P 500 and acted as somewhat of an offset. DJ30 +29.08 NASDAQ +9.67 SP500 +2.55 NASDAQ Dec/Adv/Vol 1507/1546/1.81 bln NYSE Dec/Adv/Vol 1653/1602/1.28 bln

U.S. HOUSING SLUMP DEEPENS, SPREADS
BARRIE MCKENNA Washington — First, Americans quit buying homes. Now, they may have stopped fixing and furnishing them too. Home Depot Inc. reported a 3-per-cent drop in profit in the three months that ended in October, amid mounting evidence that the U.S. housing slump is getting worse. “I don't think we've seen the bottom yet, and I don't see anything that says it's going to get significantly better in 2007,” said Bob Nardelli, Home Depot's chairman and chief executive officer. Mr. Nardelli said job losses in the home construction market are the worst he's seen in 35 years, and the pain is starting to spread to the home renovation market. “The loss of jobs ... in the home construction market is at unprecedented levels,” Mr. Nardelli told analysts on a conference call Tuesday. “Home builders [are] basically writing off earnest money and liquidating land. We're starting to see a lot of that unemployment find its way over to the small repair and remodel contractors.” Problems in the housing sector have also begun to affect how consumers spend their money. In October, U.S. retail sales fell at an annual rate of 0.2 per cent — the third consecutive monthly decline, according to a U.S. Commerce Department report Tuesday. The decline was heavily influenced by lower gasoline prices, which resulted in less revenue for gas stations. But there were also sharp declines in building materials (down 0.3 per cent), furniture (down 0.7 per cent) and department store sales (down 0.7 per cent). Over the past three months, sales of building materials have plunged at an annual rate of 10.6 per cent. “The housing slowdown left its grimy fingerprints all over this report,” BMO Nesbitt Burns economist Douglas Porter said in a note to clients. Lower gasoline prices don't seem to be causing consumers to spend elsewhere, as many economists had predicted. Even if you strip out volatile gas, food and auto sales, all other retail sales rose a meagre 0.1 per cent October. “People are being very cautious,” said Ian Shepherdson, chief North American economist at High Frequency Economics. “The housing crunch is now hurting.” At least two other bellwether U.S. retailers — Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Target Corp. — reported Tuesday that their sales and profit remain strong, in spite of the problems in the housing sector. But executives at Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, acknowledged that sales in the third quarter were disappointing and it is already vowing its biggest-ever discounting binge on items such as toys and electronics to keep cash registers ringing this Christmas. “This season, no one will doubt Wal-Mart's leadership on price and value,” Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott said. Wal-Mart's profit rose to $2.65-billion (U.S.) or 63 cents a share in the third quarter that ended Oct. 31, up from $2.37-billion or 57 cents a year earlier. That was slightly below what analysts had expected, according to Reuters. Sales were up 12 per cent to $83.5-billion. But those figures include sales at newly opened stores and foreign stores. Sales at U.S. stores that have been open at least a year were up just 1.5 per cent, and Mr. Scott said fourth-quarter sales would rise just 1 to 2 per cent.

There is nothing to rationally justify the previous up move or mixed results in the market other than what is tantamount to a negative, and based upon spurious data from the government; ie., fake government numbers said total PPI rose a smaller than expected 0.1% (consensus 0.4%) in July, which was well below the 0.5% jump in June, while the more closely watched core rate (ex-food and energy) unexpectedly (RIIIIIGHT!) fell 0.3% (consensus +0.2%) -- the first decline since October and the largest drop since a 0.5% decline in April 2003. Home Sales Decline in 28 States, D.C.. Real estate prices down/stagnant. But housing stocks…..up.....riiiiight!.....in the fraudulent "alice-in-wonderland" lunatic world of wall street where down is up and up is down.  Martin Crutsinger, AP Economics Writer, previously wrote,” U.S. Trade Deficit Falls 0.3 Percent in June to $64.8B, Offsetting Jump in Chinese Imports. Dell Recall Stems From sony Production Flaw  WASHINGTON (AP) -- America's trade deficit showed a slight improvement as strong global growth pushed U.S. exports to a record level. That helped offset a surge in Chinese imports and record crude oil prices. The deficit declined 0.3 percent in June, compared with May, dropping to $64.8 billion, still the fifth largest imbalance on record, the Commerce Department reported Thursday. The deficit is running at an annual rate of $768 billion through the first six months of this year, putting the country on track to see a fifth straight record imbalance. Last year's deficit was $716.7 billion. Prior considerations remain apposite in this clearly overvalued market. The frauds on wall street feel compelled to continue their tradition/superstition/fraud tactic of buying on the rumor and selling on the news (fact) of the Fed’s temporary pause in rate hikes. You see, the facts/news do not rationally warrant holding dollar based securities/stocks but provide a means to scam the stupid money, to the benefit of the wall street frauds/scammers and smart money.  Yahoo previously commented: Friday was a wild day on Wall Street with early gains fueled by an encouraging July jobs report being wiped away as the return of concern tied to an economic slowdown outweighed the potential of a pause in tightening at Tuesday's Fed meeting. Before the bell, nonfarm payrolls rose a less than expected 113,000 and the unemployment rate rose for the first time since November, suggesting the labor market is losing steam and reinforcing the view that the economy is on track for a soft landing. To wit, fed funds futures were pricing in a 44% chance....., to which I responded, Wild..... I’ll give you wild: GM says their quarterly loss was $3.4 billion and not 3.2 billion as reported; Ford says their loss was $200 million dollars more than they previously reported and will now join gm in worker buyouts; but both GM and Ford will now offer built-in ipods which should substantially help their core business of building cars; meanwhile, options/accounting scandal/subterfuge occurring at the apple ipod (anything but computers) company. Analyst says GM good news now behind it (past/discounted), yet stock still rose upon said analysis …..riiiiight….. daaaaah! Apple Computer Inc. warned Thursday that it may have to revise its profits dating back to 2002 in a worsening stock option scandal, maybe even suspension, that has cast a harsh light on Silicon Valley's compensation practices. Don’t forget that GDP growth slowed substantially and below expectations at 2.5% which in the alice-in-wonderland lunatic world of wall street is of course good news. Stagflation? The fact is that no rational investor would choose dollar based stocks/securities when they could get less risky/liquid (approx.) 5% yielding cds, money market instruments, short-term treasuries/funds, etc.. However it’s not rational investors that are racking up commission dollars trading in and out of stocks like termites eating away at the huge capital funds which they control. Nothing constituting real value would account for the fraudulent rally mode this and other days. Highly leveraged obfuscating mergers/acquisitions, also very commissionable (investment bankers/brokers), and historically have more often than not ended quite badly; oil prices now above $62; yes, as in the last crash, they will get fooled again’ as stocks up sharply in the fraudulent alice-in-wonderland lunatic world of wall street where down is up and up is down. The stock market has never been so backward-looking. Indeed, amazingly, the pundits/analysts are even talking SEASONAL considerations in their fraud in the inducement which is the height of absurdity (such things are discounted well in advance in a rational market). The once objective, fact-oriented Barrons publication has now become a shill for the continuing fraud on wall street. Bush no conservative says Buckley (who also says that in Europe bush’s failed war policies would have required his expected resignation).....daaaaah!; neither are the hillbillies clintons and papa hillbilly bush. CNN's DOBBS BLASTS U.S. ISRAEL POLICY... BUCHANAN: 'Israel policy violates international law, is un-American and un-Christian'... The government is also catching on and playing the “better than expectations” game with the still very substantial deficit numbers, clouded by the use of social security funds used in the general fund rather than allocated for the defacto bankrupt social security system where they belong. ! Remember, leading economic indicators are down .6 percent continuing an ignored (by wall street frauds) downward trend/weakness extending back to the summer, 2005. Options scandal as was inherent in the (fraudulent) dotcom bust is extent and under way in nasdaq particularly. Spotlight on the Stock Option Scandal-The share prices of companies involved in stock options backdating have held up well compared to the broader market. But shareholders might be in for a rougher ride. Plus, why the Nasdaq has its hands full. I previously warned be very skeptical of up-coming government/corporate/collaborative/wall street data inasmuch as they are quite desperate and have proven [ie., illegal Iraq war/occupation, 911 attack(for the neocon contrived pearl harbor effect)/who ordered NORAD to stand down?/who were the pre911(within days) short-sellers?/ and the twin towers implosion, the missile that hit the pentagon precisely in the area that housed the army investigators who announced days before the opening of an investigation into a substantial pentagon fraud, etc.] that the truth is no obstacle when falsity is expedient and the lunatic frauds on wall street will try to tell you what’s up is down and what’s down is up. Lou Dobbs gets paid a lot of money to keep track of such things and doubts the verity of the government numbers. He is riiiiight! The catch-22 is that the defacto bankrupt u.s. is printing worthless paper (so much so that they’ve stopped reporting M3) and borrowing beyond sustainability, which is hyperinflationary despite false government numbers (ie., core inflation number to fraudulently decrease yield to ibond holders, etc.). Higher interest rates to prop worthless dollar and finance deficits inevitable despite wishin', hopin', and lyin’ to the contrary; foreclosures up, housing down, default notices up 67% (particularly in california, ie., orange, la, ventura, counties etc.) nationwide. Don’t forget: the equity in housing has been stripped out of real estate by way of the refinancing boom, which artificially stimulated the economic numbers while ultimately leaving buyers with debt exceeding actual property values. There is substantial downside bias in light of real economic considerations, particularly beyond the moment/trading day given that this bull (s**t) cycle in this indisputable secular bear market is over. Remember: more contrived wasteful commissions to the wall street frauds, the level and percentage of which should be examined in light of computerization and decreased costs attendant to same especially since only A Small Fraction Of What wall street Does Is A Net Positive For The Economy (New Investment Capital), The Rest Is Tantamount To A (Economically) "Wasteful Tax" (On The Economy) via 'churn and earn' computerized programmed trades.

US '.....going bankrupt'
By Edmund Conway, Economics Editor (Filed: 14/07/2006)

The United States is heading for bankruptcy, according to an extraordinary paper published by one of the key members of the country's central bank.

A ballooning budget deficit and a pensions and welfare timebomb could send the economic superpower into insolvency, according to research by Professor Laurence Kotlikoff for the Federal Reserve Bank of St Louis, a leading constituent of the US Federal Reserve.

Prof Kotlikoff said that, by some measures, the US is already bankrupt. "To paraphrase the Oxford English Dictionary, is the United States at the end of its resources, exhausted, stripped bare, destitute, bereft, wanting in property, or wrecked in consequence of failure to pay its creditors," he asked.

According to his central analysis, "the US government is, indeed, bankrupt, insofar as it will be unable to pay its creditors, who, in this context, are current and future generations to whom it has explicitly or implicitly promised future net payments of various kinds''.

The budget deficit in the US is not massive. The Bush administration this week cut its forecasts for the fiscal shortfall this year by almost a third, saying it will come in at 2.3pc of gross domestic product. This is smaller than most European countries - including the UK - which have deficits north of 3pc of GDP.

Prof Kotlikoff, who teaches at Boston University, says: "The proper way to consider a country's solvency is to examine the lifetime fiscal burdens facing current and future generations. If these burdens exceed the resources of those generations, get close to doing so, or simply get so high as to preclude their full collection, the country's policy will be unsustainable and can constitute or lead to national bankruptcy.

"Does the United States fit this bill? No one knows for sure, but there are strong reasons to believe the United States may be going broke."

Experts have calculated that the country's long-term "fiscal gap" between all future government spending and all future receipts will widen immensely as the Baby Boomer generation retires, and as the amount the state will have to spend on healthcare and pensions soars. The total fiscal gap could be an almost incomprehensible $65.9 trillion, according to a study by Professors Gokhale and Smetters.

The figure is massive because President George W Bush has made major tax cuts in recent years, and because the bill for Medicare, which provides health insurance for the elderly, and Medicaid, which does likewise for the poor, will increase greatly due to demographics.

Prof Kotlikoff said: "This figure is more than five times US GDP and almost twice the size of national wealth. One way to wrap one's head around $65.9trillion is to ask what fiscal adjustments are needed to eliminate this red hole. The answers are terrifying. One solution is an immediate and permanent doubling of personal and corporate income taxes. Another is an immediate and permanent two-thirds cut in Social Security and Medicare benefits. A third alternative, were it feasible, would be to immediately and permanently cut all federal discretionary spending by 143pc."

The scenario has serious implications for the dollar. If investors lose confidence in the US's future, and suspect the country may at some point allow inflation to erode away its debts, they may reduce their holdings of US Treasury bonds.

Prof Kotlikoff said: "The United States has experienced high rates of inflation in the past and appears to be running the same type of fiscal policies that engendered hyperinflations in 20 countries over the past century."

UPDATE - Two former NYSE traders found guilty of fraud

Stock market staggers, but investors still may be too optimistic

Commentary: Newsletters react to stock markets' losing week
By Peter Brimelow, MarketWatch  12:04 AM ET Jul 17, 2006
Investors may still be too optimistic
NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- First, a proprietary word: on Friday night, the Hulbert Stock Newsletter Sentiment Index (HSNSI), which reflects the average recommended stock market exposure among a subset of short-term market timing newsletters tracked by the Hulbert Financial Digest, stood at plus-23.8%. This was certainly below the 31.4% it showed on Tuesday night, when Mark Hulbert worried, presciently we must say, that it was too strong from a contrary opinion point of view. But it's still above its 12.6% reading at end of June, although, Mark pointed out, the stock market had declined in the interim. And since Mark wrote, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has had three triple-digit down days.

Not good.

Dow Theory Letters' Richard Russell wrote Friday morning: "If the Dow breaks support at 10,760, I think we could have some nasty action, even some crash-type action." But, perhaps significantly, Russell did not quite hit the panic button when the Dow did indeed close at 10,739 Friday night.

He simply remarked, supporting the contrary opinion view: "Three days in a row with the Dow down over 100 points each day -- you don't see that very often. But still no signs of real fear, no capitulation, no panic -- just down, down, and down. The key consideration here is that there is still no sign of big money coming into this market. In fact, the big money has been leaving this market all year. ... The longer the market continues down without a panic decline, the worse the ultimate panic will be when it arrives."

What is Wrong with the Stock Market?

Dr. Khaled Batarfi

 

John D. Rockefeller was once asked why he decided to sell all his stocks just months before the 1929 Wall Street Crash. He explained: One morning, I was on the way to my office and stopped to have my shoes polished. The guy asked my advice about the shares he bought. If people with this kind of talent were now playing the market, I knew there was something wrong.....

 

U.S. Treasury balances at Fed fell on July 17Tue Jul 18, 2006

WASHINGTON, July 18 (Reuters) - U.S. Treasury balances at the Federal Reserve, based on the Treasury Department's latest budget statement (billions of dollars, except where noted):

              July 17 July 14 (respectively)

Fed acct  4.087 4.935

Tax/loan note acct 10.502 10.155

Cash balance 14.589 15.192

National debt,

subject to limit 8,311.633 8,323.084

The statutory debt limit is $8.965 trillion.

The Treasury said there were $192 million in individual tax refunds and $23 million in corporate tax refunds issued.

End Of The Bubble Bailouts A. Gary Shilling, Insight 08.29.06 - For a quarter-century, Americans’ spending binge has been fueled by a declining savings rate and increased borrowing. The savings rate of American consumers has fallen from 12% in the early 1980s to -1.7% today (see chart below). This means that, on average, consumer spending has risen about a half percentage point more than disposable, or after-tax, income per year for a quarter-century.

The fact that Americans are saving less and less of their after-tax income is only half the profligate consumer story. If someone borrows to buy a car, his savings rate declines because his outlays go up but his disposable income doesn’t. So the downward march in the personal savings rate is closely linked to the upward march in total consumer debt (mortgage, credit card, auto, etc.) in relation to disposable income (see chart below).

Robust consumer spending was fueled first by the soaring stock market of the 1990s and, more recently, by the housing bubble, as house prices departed from their normal close link to the Consumer Price Index (see chart below) and subsequently racked up huge appreciation for homeowners, who continued to save less and spend more. Thanks to accommodative lenders eager to provide refinancings and home equity loans, Americans extracted $719 billion in cash from their houses last year after a $633 billion withdrawal in 2004, according to the Federal Reserve.

But the housing bubble is deflating rapidly. I expect at least a 20% decline in median single-family house prices nationwide, and that number may be way understated. A bursting of the bubble would force many homeowners to curb their outlays in order to close the gaps between their income and spending growth. That would surely precipitate a major recession that would become global, given the dependence of most foreign countries on U.S. consumers to buy the excess goods and services for which they have no other markets.

That is, unless another source of money can bridge the gap between consumer incomes and outlays, just as house appreciation seamlessly took over when stocks nosedived. What could that big new source of money be? And would it be available soon, given the likelihood that house prices will swoon in coming quarters?

One possible source of big, although not immediate, money to sustain consumer spending is inheritance. Some estimates in the 1990s had the postwar babies, who have saved little for their retirement, inheriting between $10 trillion and $41 trillion from their parents in the coming decades. But subsequent work by AARP, using the Federal Reserve’s Survey of Consumer Finances for 2004 and previous years, slashed the total for inheritances of all people alive today to $12 trillion in 2005 dollars. Most of it, $9.2 trillion, will go to pre-boomers born before 1946, only $2.1 trillion to the postwar babies born between 1946 and 1964, and $0.7 trillion to the post-boomers.

Furthermore, the value of all previous inheritances as reported in the 2004 survey was $49,902 on average, with $70,317 for pre-boomers, $48,768 for boomers and $24,348 for post-boomers. Clearly, these are not numbers that provide for comfortable retirements and, therefore, allow people to continue to spend like drunken sailors.

What other assets could consumers borrow against or liquidate to support spending growth in the future? After all, they do have a lot of net worth, almost $54 trillion for households and nonprofit organizations as of the end of the first quarter. Nevertheless, there aren’t any other big assets left to tap. Another big stock bonanza is unlikely for decades, and the real estate bubble is deflating.

Deposits total $6.3 trillion, but the majority, $4.9 trillion worth, is in time and savings deposits, largely held for retirement by financially conservative people. Is it likely that a speculator who owns five houses has sizable time deposits to fall back on? Households and nonprofits hold $3.2 trillion in bonds and other credit market instruments, but most owned by individuals are in conservative hands. Life insurance reserves can be borrowed, but their total size, $1.1 trillion, pales in comparison to the $1.8 trillion that homeowners extracted from their houses in the 2003-2005 years. There’s $6.7 trillion of equity in noncorporate business, but the vast majority of that is needed by typically cash-poor small businesses to keep their doors open.

Pension funds might be a source of cash for consumers who want to live it up now and take the Scarlett O’Hara, “I’ll worry about that tomorrow” attitude toward retirement. They totaled $11.1 trillion in the first quarter, but that number includes public funds and private defined benefit plans that are seldom available to pre-retirees unless they leave their jobs.

The private defined contribution plans, typically 401(k)s, totaled $2.5 trillion in 2004 and have been growing rapidly because employers favor them. But sadly, many employees, especially those at lower income levels, don’t share their bosses’ zeal. Only about 70% participate in their company 401(k) plans and thereby take advantage of company contributions. Lower paid employees are especially absent from participation, with 40% of those making less than $20,000 contributing (60% of those earning $20,000 to $40,000), while 90% of employees earning $100,000 or more participate.

Furthermore, the amount that employees could net from withdrawals from defined contribution plans would be far less than the $2.5 trillion total, probably less than the $1.8 trillion they pulled out of their houses from 2003 to 2005. That $2.5 trillion total includes company contributions that are not yet vested and can’t be withdrawn. Also, withdrawals by those under 59½ years old are subject to a 10% penalty, with income taxes due on the remainder.

With soaring stock portfolios now ancient history and leaping house prices about to be, no other sources, such as inheritance or pension fund withdrawals, are likely to fill the gap between robust consumer spending and weak income growth. Consumer retrenchment and the saving spree I’ve been expecting may finally be about to commence. And the effects on consumer behavior, especially on borrowing and discretionary spending, will be broad and deep.

Analysts' Forecasts and Brokerage-Firm Trading
THE ACCOUNTING REVIEW Vol. 79, No. 1 2004 pp. 125–149 Analysts’ Forecasts and
Brokerage-Firm Trading
Paul J. Irvine Emory University University of Georgia
Collectively, these results suggest that analysts can generate higher trading commissions through their positive stock recommendations than by biasing their forecasts.

WHISPERS OF MERGERS SET OFF BOUTS OF SUSPICIOUS TRADING...
August 27, 2006 NYTimes By GRETCHEN MORGENSONThe boom in corporate mergers is creating concern that illicit trading ahead of deal announcements is becoming a systemic problem.

(12-07-06) Stocks drop still only modestly relative to reality with suckers bear market rally still intact in shortened session as the wall street fraud continues to suck the suckers in; ie., as the Dow Jones industrial average fell 30.84, S&P fell 5.61 ,and NASDAQ fell 18.71 , all very commissionable on heavy volume, as in final pre-election result push for bush, which fell very short. The ism services index (financed by unsustainable deficit/debt spending and pushing/commissioning worthless paper) and jawboning/bulls**t from the housing industry (the end is near.....riiiiight!), obfuscating mergers continued to cloud the picture, closely-watched core-PCE deflator had risen a more than expected 0.2%, second sub-50 reading on manufacturing activity in as many sessions-the November ISM index unexpectedly fell to 49.5 (consensus 52.0), Chicago PMI fell to its lowest level (49.9%) in October, and below the 50 level, indicating contraction, crude prices up  (OIL PRICES RISE ABOVE $63 A BARREL...), DOLLAR RESUMES SLIDE, Fed Chairman Bernanke & Co. cheerleading/jawboning/bulls**t, 3.2% decline in new home sales, oil inventories down and oil prices up, all very bad news anywhere but in the fraudulent alice-in-wonderland world of wall street. Durable goods orders fell sharply, sentiment down, but supposedly used home sales rose slightly (riiiiight.....who says; the realtors/government who have been talking up this bubble market?) albeit at sharply lower prices. DOLLAR PLUNGES TO NEAR 15-YEAR LOW  In other words, no good news to justify the ridiculous up move by the alice-in-wonderland frauds of wall street. Worthless dollar, triple deficits, stock/options scandals/corruption, as some speculate that fed is behind purchases/manipulation (through proxy) of worthless american paper now being shunned by more rational market players abroad.  MARKETS ROCKED BY LONG OVERDUE BUT STILL MODEST RELATIVE TO REALITY SHARP SLIDE IN DOLLAR...There has never been a time since 1929 when stock prices and p/e ratios were so irrationally high for this point in a bull cycle in this indisputable secular bear market, particularly with the existing unprecedented structural economic problems, ie., trade and budget deficits, worthless dollar, scandals, fraud, corruption , etc.. In fact, unemployment unexpectedly rose substantially and consumer sentiment unexpectedly but similarly realistically fell, both very negative exept in the  fraudulent alice-in-wonderland world of wall street. Indeed, the housing bubble bursting with ie., unexpected 14% decline in starts/permits, etc., led to rally in the fraudulent alice-in-wonderland world of wall street. Obfuscating mergers help preclude detection of this massive and pervasive fraud which defies analysis owing to these mergers. New talking pointing: dell numbers exceed expectations depending upon ongoing government scrutiny of their accounting practices.....riiiiight! More contrived manipulated markets and data well as that previous unexpected rise in that global hub of manufacturing activity, New York (worthless paper is their real product, etc.) …..riiiiight!….. underpins fraudulent up move. Reassuring Fed speak, also known as b**l s**t, along with IPO’s (get the suckers in at the highs as in late 90’s market bubble), and shrugging off pervasive stock/options fraud as at, ie., KB Homes, etc., leave stocks ridiculously higher. Nations leaving the worthless dollar in droves for currencies backed by value and for precious metals. Based on the self-interested statement of typical fraud american and fed rep, we hear once again the wishful thought that housing has bottomed.....right! [Reality/Truth: US housing slump deepens, spreads]. Home depot rallies despite lower than expected results and lower guidance for the year.....right! Who is stupid enough to believe anything the fraudulent criminal americans say. They are printing worthless dollars like mad. Consumer sentiment actually previously fell and there was nothing but wall street lunacy to prop the fraudulent market. The republicans who lockstepped with war criminal dumbya bush deserved to lose. The frauds on wall street now looking for the new corporate welfare program for which to sell the sizzle ie., stem cells, etc.. The know-nothing pundits are now saying the up move without any rational basis is predicated upon the the falsity that gridlock in washington is welcomed and good because no regulation of, ie., fraud on wall street, etc., can be passed. How about a tax on stock trades to come directly from the traders' (traitors/frauds) bottom lines and provide a disincentive for the churn-and-earn fraud which is tantamount to a wasteful tax on the economy. Even token Christian paulison from jew fraud wall street couldn't stem the tide against the blatent zionist/neocon/bush co failure accross the board as the wall street frauds show record profits financed, albeit indirectly, by huge deficits, both trade and budget. Obfuscating mergers blur the picture to provide cover for up move talking points in defiance of reality.  Stagflation and full employment revisions pre-election.....riiiiight. Productivity comes in at a less than expected 0 (inflationary). The only surprise should have been that the number wasn't negative. The pundits are now saying that the market/wall street fraud is in a state of denial regarding economic fundamentals and that the market is substantially overbought, overvalued, overfrauded, over, etc., the manufacturing index coming in lower than expectations. Consumer sentiment unexpectedly fell.....daaaaah. Pre-election core inflation rate report good …..riiiiight…..but savings rate still negative and walmart sales/profits/outlook substantially below expectations but what the heck, they’re wallstreet lunatics/frauds and reality is no problem. Despite pre-election deficit spending, GNP comes in a less than expected paltry 1.6% increase with worthless falling dollar the catch-22 precluding reality avoidance and the worst yet to come. More nations leaving the worthless dollar as reserve currency even as frauds on wall street reach new highs (What are they smoking? Coking? or like the dollar just cracking) based on corporate welfare flows with money the nation doesn't have pre-election (record deficits). Housing prices continue their sharp decline as bubble deflates. GM only lost 115 million. Ford lost 5.8 billion and must restate earnings back to year 2000 is a bullish sign in the fraudulent alice-in-wonderland lunatic world of wall street. Typical pre-fed meeting rally to provide a cushion for any negative pronouncements which reality would require but are seldom forthcoming by the accommodative frauds who have similarly embraced unreality. Indeed, the gutless wimps of wall street think they're "tough" when they fraudulently take the market higher despite a clearly contrary fact based reality. Caterpillar relates the pervasive reality and the frauds on wallstreet intimidate same with sell off, ignoring pervasive options scandal/fraud and rallies Merck despite lower than expectation results.....riiiiight! Election year corporate welfare to prime the pump and the mock stock market with money the nation doesn’t have (increasing already huge deficits). CPI figures (upon which government inflation adjusted payment obligations are based) lower than expected…..riiiiight! Intel earnings/revenues down sharply but according to the lunatic frauds on wall street, beat expectations and stock rallies along with yahoo which as in the pre-dot com bust days says better days are a coming….. riiiiight Core inflation rate which is closely watched by the Fed exceeds all expectations. Fraud Merrill Lynch has really been pushing and commissioning that worthless paper and reports record earnings, despite having produced nothing and for very little if any value added (that ill-gotten money has to come from somewhere-your pockets?). The big economic report awaiting scrutiny was the monthly trade deficit which was expected to narrow but in fact INCREASED to 69.9 billion. The alice-in-wonderland lunatic wall street frauds rallied on the news as the dollar precipitously fell. The Fed Chairman said there is a "substantial correction" in housing, which will probably shave about 1% off growth in the second half of the year. The Institute of Supply Management said its services index fell to 52.9 in September -- the lowest level since April 2003. Great News….. riiiiight!..... Consumer Confidence Higher Than Expected... riiiiight!..... and housing starts were down sharply but not-as-bad-as-expectations game in play US Existing Home Sales Fall 0.5% in August; Sales Price Drops Existing-home prices fall for 1st time in 11 years along with fed jaw-boning pre-election that inflation has been licked .....riiiiight …..despite printing worthless dollars like they’re going out of style because they really are! Fed did nothing and stocks rallied, pre-election.....riiiiight! What about the reality of u.s. debt service at a record unsustainable $2 billion per day on a revolving $2 trillion charge account with ie., China, etc.. The fact that foreclosures are up and that there is projected new trade deficit record, fake government inflation numbers for election year purposes, housing starts down 6% means little to the alice-in-wonderland lunatic frauds of wall street and the so-called pundits including yahoo below. Almost all computerized volume is and must be considered heavy, manipulated, economically wasteful volume [stocks move contrary to rational analytical facts (ie., exceeded lowered expectations, things so bad interest rates can’t rise, exceeded expectations, no earnings but outlook extraordinary, the fed says booo as they print more worthless dollars to finance deficits, etc. ) is money in the bank for the frauds on wall street when they unwind said irrational positions ]. Philadelphia Federal Reserve announces that its broadest measure of manufacturing activity fell to a negative reading for the first time since April 2003, leading economic indicators fall .2%, and previously fell .1% though expected to show an increase, and in addition to the larger than expected 4.1% drop in July existing home sales to its lowest level in over two years and lifted inventories to record levels , new home sales fell 4.3%, and a larger than expected 2.4% decline in July durable orders which are negatives anywhere but in the alice-in-wonderland lunatic world of wall street where same is greeted as good news as also follows with b**l s**t from Yahoo (which didn’t even reference the record unanticipated trade gap):

 

HP Investors Unmoved by Spying Suit Deal
AP - Investors have largely shrugged off Hewlett-Packard Co.'s boardroom spying scandal, dismissing the brouhaha surrounding the company as immaterial to its day-to-day operations and stellar earnings growth in recent months.

Monsanto Makes Moves in Seed Wars AP
Bidders Vie for Singapore Casino Deal AP
E. Coli Could Hurt Taco Bell Sales
AP
Factory Blast May Affect Gear Supply
AP

As is typically the case heading into the closely-watched monthly employment report, market breadth throughout most of the session reflected a sense of nervousness and prevented the bulls from stepping back in following yesterday's breather. With Fed Chairman Bernanke recently acknowledging that extra attentiveness will be placed on incoming employment data (i.e. rising wages), worries that Friday's jobs report won't provide enough conviction to support the soft landing scenario that has been priced into stocks since July left investors questioning the sustainability of recent market gains. As a result, the best performing sectors over the last 4 1/2 months were among the hardest hit today. With the Nasdaq outpacing its blue chip counterparts since the summer, it wasn't all that surprising to see profit taking in everything from semiconductors to software to leave Technology as today's biggest laggard. Adding insult to injury was a 3.0% sell-off in one of the sector's biggest names -- Apple Computer (AAPL 87.03 -2.80). CIBC World Markets said Apple's highly anticipated iPhone rollout may be delayed. Following three straight days of declines, some short covering in crude oil futures heading into the close of trading on the NYMEX also kept buyers sidelined. Crude for January delivery closed up 0.5% near $62.50/bbl. More notably was the inability by refiners, drillers and explorers to take notice as the Energy sector was still among today's poorest performers. Consumer Discretionary was also a focal point Thursday, especially after an internal investigation showed that Home Depot (HD 38.93 -0.99), the day's worst performing Dow component, understated stock option expense by $200 mln. The sector was also under pressure as valuation concerns prompted Credit Suisse to downgrade the homebuilding group. One of the sector's only bright spots was News Corp (NWS 22.36 +0.62). The stock, which is also a suggested holding in our Active Portfolio, surged nearly 3% amid reports that it is close to finalizing a deal to swap its interest in DirecTV for Liberty Media's $11 bln stake in NWS. DJ30 -30.84 NASDAQ -18.17 SP500 -5.61 NASDAQ Dec/Adv/Vol 1888/1181/2.07 bln NYSE Dec/Adv/Vol 1941/1312/1.37 bln

U.S. HOUSING SLUMP DEEPENS, SPREADS
BARRIE MCKENNA Washington — First, Americans quit buying homes. Now, they may have stopped fixing and furnishing them too. Home Depot Inc. reported a 3-per-cent drop in profit in the three months that ended in October, amid mounting evidence that the U.S. housing slump is getting worse. “I don't think we've seen the bottom yet, and I don't see anything that says it's going to get significantly better in 2007,” said Bob Nardelli, Home Depot's chairman and chief executive officer. Mr. Nardelli said job losses in the home construction market are the worst he's seen in 35 years, and the pain is starting to spread to the home renovation market. “The loss of jobs ... in the home construction market is at unprecedented levels,” Mr. Nardelli told analysts on a conference call Tuesday. “Home builders [are] basically writing off earnest money and liquidating land. We're starting to see a lot of that unemployment find its way over to the small repair and remodel contractors.” Problems in the housing sector have also begun to affect how consumers spend their money. In October, U.S. retail sales fell at an annual rate of 0.2 per cent — the third consecutive monthly decline, according to a U.S. Commerce Department report Tuesday. The decline was heavily influenced by lower gasoline prices, which resulted in less revenue for gas stations. But there were also sharp declines in building materials (down 0.3 per cent), furniture (down 0.7 per cent) and department store sales (down 0.7 per cent). Over the past three months, sales of building materials have plunged at an annual rate of 10.6 per cent. “The housing slowdown left its grimy fingerprints all over this report,” BMO Nesbitt Burns economist Douglas Porter said in a note to clients. Lower gasoline prices don't seem to be causing consumers to spend elsewhere, as many economists had predicted. Even if you strip out volatile gas, food and auto sales, all other retail sales rose a meagre 0.1 per cent October. “People are being very cautious,” said Ian Shepherdson, chief North American economist at High Frequency Economics. “The housing crunch is now hurting.” At least two other bellwether U.S. retailers — Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Target Corp. — reported Tuesday that their sales and profit remain strong, in spite of the problems in the housing sector. But executives at Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, acknowledged that sales in the third quarter were disappointing and it is already vowing its biggest-ever discounting binge on items such as toys and electronics to keep cash registers ringing this Christmas. “This season, no one will doubt Wal-Mart's leadership on price and value,” Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott said. Wal-Mart's profit rose to $2.65-billion (U.S.) or 63 cents a share in the third quarter that ended Oct. 31, up from $2.37-billion or 57 cents a year earlier. That was slightly below what analysts had expected, according to Reuters. Sales were up 12 per cent to $83.5-billion. But those figures include sales at newly opened stores and foreign stores. Sales at U.S. stores that have been open at least a year were up just 1.5 per cent, and Mr. Scott said fourth-quarter sales would rise just 1 to 2 per cent.

There is nothing to rationally justify the previous up move or mixed results in the market other than what is tantamount to a negative, and based upon spurious data from the government; ie., fake government numbers said total PPI rose a smaller than expected 0.1% (consensus 0.4%) in July, which was well below the 0.5% jump in June, while the more closely watched core rate (ex-food and energy) unexpectedly (RIIIIIGHT!) fell 0.3% (consensus +0.2%) -- the first decline since October and the largest drop since a 0.5% decline in April 2003. Home Sales Decline in 28 States, D.C.. Real estate prices down/stagnant. But housing stocks…..up.....riiiiight!.....in the fraudulent "alice-in-wonderland" lunatic world of wall street where down is up and up is down.  Martin Crutsinger, AP Economics Writer, previously wrote,” U.S. Trade Deficit Falls 0.3 Percent in June to $64.8B, Offsetting Jump in Chinese Imports. Dell Recall Stems From sony Production Flaw  WASHINGTON (AP) -- America's trade deficit showed a slight improvement as strong global growth pushed U.S. exports to a record level. That helped offset a surge in Chinese imports and record crude oil prices. The deficit declined 0.3 percent in June, compared with May, dropping to $64.8 billion, still the fifth largest imbalance on record, the Commerce Department reported Thursday. The deficit is running at an annual rate of $768 billion through the first six months of this year, putting the country on track to see a fifth straight record imbalance. Last year's deficit was $716.7 billion. Prior considerations remain apposite in this clearly overvalued market. The frauds on wall street feel compelled to continue their tradition/superstition/fraud tactic of buying on the rumor and selling on the news (fact) of the Fed’s temporary pause in rate hikes. You see, the facts/news do not rationally warrant holding dollar based securities/stocks but provide a means to scam the stupid money, to the benefit of the wall street frauds/scammers and smart money.  Yahoo previously commented: Friday was a wild day on Wall Street with early gains fueled by an encouraging July jobs report being wiped away as the return of concern tied to an economic slowdown outweighed the potential of a pause in tightening at Tuesday's Fed meeting. Before the bell, nonfarm payrolls rose a less than expected 113,000 and the unemployment rate rose for the first time since November, suggesting the labor market is losing steam and reinforcing the view that the economy is on track for a soft landing. To wit, fed funds futures were pricing in a 44% chance....., to which I responded, Wild..... I’ll give you wild: GM says their quarterly loss was $3.4 billion and not 3.2 billion as reported; Ford says their loss was $200 million dollars more than they previously reported and will now join gm in worker buyouts; but both GM and Ford will now offer built-in ipods which should substantially help their core business of building cars; meanwhile, options/accounting scandal/subterfuge occurring at the apple ipod (anything but computers) company. Analyst says GM good news now behind it (past/discounted), yet stock still rose upon said analysis …..riiiiight….. daaaaah! Apple Computer Inc. warned Thursday that it may have to revise its profits dating back to 2002 in a worsening stock option scandal, maybe even suspension, that has cast a harsh light on Silicon Valley's compensation practices. Don’t forget that GDP growth slowed substantially and below expectations at 2.5% which in the alice-in-wonderland lunatic world of wall street is of course good news. Stagflation? The fact is that no rational investor would choose dollar based stocks/securities when they could get less risky/liquid (approx.) 5% yielding cds, money market instruments, short-term treasuries/funds, etc.. However it’s not rational investors that are racking up commission dollars trading in and out of stocks like termites eating away at the huge capital funds which they control. Nothing constituting real value would account for the fraudulent rally mode this and other days. Highly leveraged obfuscating mergers/acquisitions, also very commissionable (investment bankers/brokers), and historically have more often than not ended quite badly; oil prices now above $62; yes, as in the last crash, they will get fooled again’ as stocks up sharply in the fraudulent alice-in-wonderland lunatic world of wall street where down is up and up is down. The stock market has never been so backward-looking. Indeed, amazingly, the pundits/analysts are even talking SEASONAL considerations in their fraud in the inducement which is the height of absurdity (such things are discounted well in advance in a rational market). The once objective, fact-oriented Barrons publication has now become a shill for the continuing fraud on wall street. Bush no conservative says Buckley (who also says that in Europe bush’s failed war policies would have required his expected resignation).....daaaaah!; neither are the hillbillies clintons and papa hillbilly bush. CNN's DOBBS BLASTS U.S. ISRAEL POLICY... BUCHANAN: 'Israel policy violates international law, is un-American and un-Christian'... The government is also catching on and playing the “better than expectations” game with the still very substantial deficit numbers, clouded by the use of social security funds used in the general fund rather than allocated for the defacto bankrupt social security system where they belong. ! Remember, leading economic indicators are down .6 percent continuing an ignored (by wall street frauds) downward trend/weakness extending back to the summer, 2005. Options scandal as was inherent in the (fraudulent) dotcom bust is extent and under way in nasdaq particularly. Spotlight on the Stock Option Scandal-The share prices of companies involved in stock options backdating have held up well compared to the broader market. But shareholders might be in for a rougher ride. Plus, why the Nasdaq has its hands full. I previously warned be very skeptical of up-coming government/corporate/collaborative/wall street data inasmuch as they are quite desperate and have proven [ie., illegal Iraq war/occupation, 911 attack(for the neocon contrived pearl harbor effect)/who ordered NORAD to stand down?/who were the pre911(within days) short-sellers?/ and the twin towers implosion, the missile that hit the pentagon precisely in the area that housed the army investigators who announced days before the opening of an investigation into a substantial pentagon fraud, etc.] that the truth is no obstacle when falsity is expedient and the lunatic frauds on wall street will try to tell you what’s up is down and what’s down is up. Lou Dobbs gets paid a lot of money to keep track of such things and doubts the verity of the government numbers. He is riiiiight! The catch-22 is that the defacto bankrupt u.s. is printing worthless paper (so much so that they’ve stopped reporting M3) and borrowing beyond sustainability, which is hyperinflationary despite false government numbers (ie., core inflation number to fraudulently decrease yield to ibond holders, etc.). Higher interest rates to prop worthless dollar and finance deficits inevitable despite wishin', hopin', and lyin’ to the contrary; foreclosures up, housing down, default notices up 67% (particularly in california, ie., orange, la, ventura, counties etc.) nationwide. Don’t forget: the equity in housing has been stripped out of real estate by way of the refinancing boom, which artificially stimulated the economic numbers while ultimately leaving buyers with debt exceeding actual property values. There is substantial downside bias in light of real economic considerations, particularly beyond the moment/trading day given that this bull (s**t) cycle in this indisputable secular bear market is over. Remember: more contrived wasteful commissions to the wall street frauds, the level and percentage of which should be examined in light of computerization and decreased costs attendant to same especially since only A Small Fraction Of What wall street Does Is A Net Positive For The Economy (New Investment Capital), The Rest Is Tantamount To A (Economically) "Wasteful Tax" (On The Economy) via 'churn and earn' computerized programmed trades.

US '.....going bankrupt'
By Edmund Conway, Economics Editor (Filed: 14/07/2006)

The United States is heading for bankruptcy, according to an extraordinary paper published by one of the key members of the country's central bank.

A ballooning budget deficit and a pensions and welfare timebomb could send the economic superpower into insolvency, according to research by Professor Laurence Kotlikoff for the Federal Reserve Bank of St Louis, a leading constituent of the US Federal Reserve.

Prof Kotlikoff said that, by some measures, the US is already bankrupt. "To paraphrase the Oxford English Dictionary, is the United States at the end of its resources, exhausted, stripped bare, destitute, bereft, wanting in property, or wrecked in consequence of failure to pay its creditors," he asked.

According to his central analysis, "the US government is, indeed, bankrupt, insofar as it will be unable to pay its creditors, who, in this context, are current and future generations to whom it has explicitly or implicitly promised future net payments of various kinds''.

The budget deficit in the US is not massive. The Bush administration this week cut its forecasts for the fiscal shortfall this year by almost a third, saying it will come in at 2.3pc of gross domestic product. This is smaller than most European countries - including the UK - which have deficits north of 3pc of GDP.

Prof Kotlikoff, who teaches at Boston University, says: "The proper way to consider a country's solvency is to examine the lifetime fiscal burdens facing current and future generations. If these burdens exceed the resources of those generations, get close to doing so, or simply get so high as to preclude their full collection, the country's policy will be unsustainable and can constitute or lead to national bankruptcy.

"Does the United States fit this bill? No one knows for sure, but there are strong reasons to believe the United States may be going broke."

Experts have calculated that the country's long-term "fiscal gap" between all future government spending and all future receipts will widen immensely as the Baby Boomer generation retires, and as the amount the state will have to spend on healthcare and pensions soars. The total fiscal gap could be an almost incomprehensible $65.9 trillion, according to a study by Professors Gokhale and Smetters.

The figure is massive because President George W Bush has made major tax cuts in recent years, and because the bill for Medicare, which provides health insurance for the elderly, and Medicaid, which does likewise for the poor, will increase greatly due to demographics.

Prof Kotlikoff said: "This figure is more than five times US GDP and almost twice the size of national wealth. One way to wrap one's head around $65.9trillion is to ask what fiscal adjustments are needed to eliminate this red hole. The answers are terrifying. One solution is an immediate and permanent doubling of personal and corporate income taxes. Another is an immediate and permanent two-thirds cut in Social Security and Medicare benefits. A third alternative, were it feasible, would be to immediately and permanently cut all federal discretionary spending by 143pc."

The scenario has serious implications for the dollar. If investors lose confidence in the US's future, and suspect the country may at some point allow inflation to erode away its debts, they may reduce their holdings of US Treasury bonds.

Prof Kotlikoff said: "The United States has experienced high rates of inflation in the past and appears to be running the same type of fiscal policies that engendered hyperinflations in 20 countries over the past century."

UPDATE - Two former NYSE traders found guilty of fraud

Stock market staggers, but investors still may be too optimistic

Commentary: Newsletters react to stock markets' losing week
By Peter Brimelow, MarketWatch  12:04 AM ET Jul 17, 2006
Investors may still be too optimistic
NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- First, a proprietary word: on Friday night, the Hulbert Stock Newsletter Sentiment Index (HSNSI), which reflects the average recommended stock market exposure among a subset of short-term market timing newsletters tracked by the Hulbert Financial Digest, stood at plus-23.8%. This was certainly below the 31.4% it showed on Tuesday night, when Mark Hulbert worried, presciently we must say, that it was too strong from a contrary opinion point of view. But it's still above its 12.6% reading at end of June, although, Mark pointed out, the stock market had declined in the interim. And since Mark wrote, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has had three triple-digit down days.

Not good.

Dow Theory Letters' Richard Russell wrote Friday morning: "If the Dow breaks support at 10,760, I think we could have some nasty action, even some crash-type action." But, perhaps significantly, Russell did not quite hit the panic button when the Dow did indeed close at 10,739 Friday night.

He simply remarked, supporting the contrary opinion view: "Three days in a row with the Dow down over 100 points each day -- you don't see that very often. But still no signs of real fear, no capitulation, no panic -- just down, down, and down. The key consideration here is that there is still no sign of big money coming into this market. In fact, the big money has been leaving this market all year. ... The longer the market continues down without a panic decline, the worse the ultimate panic will be when it arrives."

What is Wrong with the Stock Market?

Dr. Khaled Batarfi

 

John D. Rockefeller was once asked why he decided to sell all his stocks just months before the 1929 Wall Street Crash. He explained: One morning, I was on the way to my office and stopped to have my shoes polished. The guy asked my advice about the shares he bought. If people with this kind of talent were now playing the market, I knew there was something wrong.....

 

U.S. Treasury balances at Fed fell on July 17Tue Jul 18, 2006

WASHINGTON, July 18 (Reuters) - U.S. Treasury balances at the Federal Reserve, based on the Treasury Department's latest budget statement (billions of dollars, except where noted):

              July 17 July 14 (respectively)

Fed acct  4.087 4.935

Tax/loan note acct 10.502 10.155

Cash balance 14.589 15.192

National debt,

subject to limit 8,311.633 8,323.084

The statutory debt limit is $8.965 trillion.

The Treasury said there were $192 million in individual tax refunds and $23 million in corporate tax refunds issued.

End Of The Bubble Bailouts A. Gary Shilling, Insight 08.29.06 - For a quarter-century, Americans’ spending binge has been fueled by a declining savings rate and increased borrowing. The savings rate of American consumers has fallen from 12% in the early 1980s to -1.7% today (see chart below). This means that, on average, consumer spending has risen about a half percentage point more than disposable, or after-tax, income per year for a quarter-century.

The fact that Americans are saving less and less of their after-tax income is only half the profligate consumer story. If someone borrows to buy a car, his savings rate declines because his outlays go up but his disposable income doesn’t. So the downward march in the personal savings rate is closely linked to the upward march in total consumer debt (mortgage, credit card, auto, etc.) in relation to disposable income (see chart below).

Robust consumer spending was fueled first by the soaring stock market of the 1990s and, more recently, by the housing bubble, as house prices departed from their normal close link to the Consumer Price Index (see chart below) and subsequently racked up huge appreciation for homeowners, who continued to save less and spend more. Thanks to accommodative lenders eager to provide refinancings and home equity loans, Americans extracted $719 billion in cash from their houses last year after a $633 billion withdrawal in 2004, according to the Federal Reserve.

But the housing bubble is deflating rapidly. I expect at least a 20% decline in median single-family house prices nationwide, and that number may be way understated. A bursting of the bubble would force many homeowners to curb their outlays in order to close the gaps between their income and spending growth. That would surely precipitate a major recession that would become global, given the dependence of most foreign countries on U.S. consumers to buy the excess goods and services for which they have no other markets.

That is, unless another source of money can bridge the gap between consumer incomes and outlays, just as house appreciation seamlessly took over when stocks nosedived. What could that big new source of money be? And would it be available soon, given the likelihood that house prices will swoon in coming quarters?

One possible source of big, although not immediate, money to sustain consumer spending is inheritance. Some estimates in the 1990s had the postwar babies, who have saved little for their retirement, inheriting between $10 trillion and $41 trillion from their parents in the coming decades. But subsequent work by AARP, using the Federal Reserve’s Survey of Consumer Finances for 2004 and previous years, slashed the total for inheritances of all people alive today to $12 trillion in 2005 dollars. Most of it, $9.2 trillion, will go to pre-boomers born before 1946, only $2.1 trillion to the postwar babies born between 1946 and 1964, and $0.7 trillion to the post-boomers.

Furthermore, the value of all previous inheritances as reported in the 2004 survey was $49,902 on average, with $70,317 for pre-boomers, $48,768 for boomers and $24,348 for post-boomers. Clearly, these are not numbers that provide for comfortable retirements and, therefore, allow people to continue to spend like drunken sailors.

What other assets could consumers borrow against or liquidate to support spending growth in the future? After all, they do have a lot of net worth, almost $54 trillion for households and nonprofit organizations as of the end of the first quarter. Nevertheless, there aren’t any other big assets left to tap. Another big stock bonanza is unlikely for decades, and the real estate bubble is deflating.

Deposits total $6.3 trillion, but the majority, $4.9 trillion worth, is in time and savings deposits, largely held for retirement by financially conservative people. Is it likely that a speculator who owns five houses has sizable time deposits to fall back on? Households and nonprofits hold $3.2 trillion in bonds and other credit market instruments, but most owned by individuals are in conservative hands. Life insurance reserves can be borrowed, but their total size, $1.1 trillion, pales in comparison to the $1.8 trillion that homeowners extracted from their houses in the 2003-2005 years. There’s $6.7 trillion of equity in noncorporate business, but the vast majority of that is needed by typically cash-poor small businesses to keep their doors open.

Pension funds might be a source of cash for consumers who want to live it up now and take the Scarlett O’Hara, “I’ll worry about that tomorrow” attitude toward retirement. They totaled $11.1 trillion in the first quarter, but that number includes public funds and private defined benefit plans that are seldom available to pre-retirees unless they leave their jobs.

The private defined contribution plans, typically 401(k)s, totaled $2.5 trillion in 2004 and have been growing rapidly because employers favor them. But sadly, many employees, especially those at lower income levels, don’t share their bosses’ zeal. Only about 70% participate in their company 401(k) plans and thereby take advantage of company contributions. Lower paid employees are especially absent from participation, with 40% of those making less than $20,000 contributing (60% of those earning $20,000 to $40,000), while 90% of employees earning $100,000 or more participate.

Furthermore, the amount that employees could net from withdrawals from defined contribution plans would be far less than the $2.5 trillion total, probably less than the $1.8 trillion they pulled out of their houses from 2003 to 2005. That $2.5 trillion total includes company contributions that are not yet vested and can’t be withdrawn. Also, withdrawals by those under 59½ years old are subject to a 10% penalty, with income taxes due on the remainder.

With soaring stock portfolios now ancient history and leaping house prices about to be, no other sources, such as inheritance or pension fund withdrawals, are likely to fill the gap between robust consumer spending and weak income growth. Consumer retrenchment and the saving spree I’ve been expecting may finally be about to commence. And the effects on consumer behavior, especially on borrowing and discretionary spending, will be broad and deep.

Analysts' Forecasts and Brokerage-Firm Trading
THE ACCOUNTING REVIEW Vol. 79, No. 1 2004 pp. 125–149 Analysts’ Forecasts and
Brokerage-Firm Trading
Paul J. Irvine Emory University University of Georgia
Collectively, these results suggest that analysts can generate higher trading commissions through their positive stock recommendations than by biasing their forecasts.

WHISPERS OF MERGERS SET OFF BOUTS OF SUSPICIOUS TRADING...
August 27, 2006 NYTimes By GRETCHEN MORGENSONThe boom in corporate mergers is creating concern that illicit trading ahead of deal announcements is becoming a systemic problem.

(12-06-06) Stocks drop still only modestly relative to reality with suckers bear market rally still intact as the wall street fraud continues to suck the suckers in; ie., as the Dow Jones industrial average fell 22.35, S&P fell 1.86 ,and NASDAQ fell 6.52 , all very commissionable on heavy volume, as in final pre-election result push for bush, which fell very short. The ism services index (financed by unsustainable deficit/debt spending and pushing/commissioning worthless paper) and jawboning/bulls**t from the housing industry (the end is near.....riiiiight!), obfuscating mergers continued to cloud the picture, closely-watched core-PCE deflator had risen a more than expected 0.2%, second sub-50 reading on manufacturing activity in as many sessions-the November ISM index unexpectedly fell to 49.5 (consensus 52.0), Chicago PMI fell to its lowest level (49.9%) in October, and below the 50 level, indicating contraction, crude prices up  (OIL PRICES RISE ABOVE $63 A BARREL...), DOLLAR RESUMES SLIDE, Fed Chairman Bernanke & Co. cheerleading/jawboning/bulls**t, 3.2% decline in new home sales, oil inventories down and oil prices up, all very bad news anywhere but in the fraudulent alice-in-wonderland world of wall street. Durable goods orders fell sharply, sentiment down, but supposedly used home sales rose slightly (riiiiight.....who says; the realtors/government who have been talking up this bubble market?) albeit at sharply lower prices. DOLLAR PLUNGES TO NEAR 15-YEAR LOW  In other words, no good news to justify the ridiculous up move by the alice-in-wonderland frauds of wall street. Worthless dollar, triple deficits, stock/options scandals/corruption, as some speculate that fed is behind purchases/manipulation (through proxy) of worthless american paper now being shunned by more rational market players abroad.  MARKETS ROCKED BY LONG OVERDUE BUT STILL MODEST RELATIVE TO REALITY SHARP SLIDE IN DOLLAR...There has never been a time since 1929 when stock prices and p/e ratios were so irrationally high for this point in a bull cycle in this indisputable secular bear market, particularly with the existing unprecedented structural economic problems, ie., trade and budget deficits, worthless dollar, scandals, fraud, corruption , etc.. In fact, unemployment unexpectedly rose substantially and consumer sentiment unexpectedly but similarly realistically fell, both very negative exept in the  fraudulent alice-in-wonderland world of wall street. Indeed, the housing bubble bursting with ie., unexpected 14% decline in starts/permits, etc., led to rally in the fraudulent alice-in-wonderland world of wall street. Obfuscating mergers help preclude detection of this massive and pervasive fraud which defies analysis owing to these mergers. New talking pointing: dell numbers exceed expectations depending upon ongoing government scrutiny of their accounting practices.....riiiiight! More contrived manipulated markets and data well as that previous unexpected rise in that global hub of manufacturing activity, New York (worthless paper is their real product, etc.) …..riiiiight!….. underpins fraudulent up move. Reassuring Fed speak, also known as b**l s**t, along with IPO’s (get the suckers in at the highs as in late 90’s market bubble), and shrugging off pervasive stock/options fraud as at, ie., KB Homes, etc., leave stocks ridiculously higher. Nations leaving the worthless dollar in droves for currencies backed by value and for precious metals. Based on the self-interested statement of typical fraud american and fed rep, we hear once again the wishful thought that housing has bottomed.....right! [Reality/Truth: US housing slump deepens, spreads]. Home depot rallies despite lower than expected results and lower guidance for the year.....right! Who is stupid enough to believe anything the fraudulent criminal americans say. They are printing worthless dollars like mad. Consumer sentiment actually previously fell and there was nothing but wall street lunacy to prop the fraudulent market. The republicans who lockstepped with war criminal dumbya bush deserved to lose. The frauds on wall street now looking for the new corporate welfare program for which to sell the sizzle ie., stem cells, etc.. The know-nothing pundits are now saying the up move without any rational basis is predicated upon the the falsity that gridlock in washington is welcomed and good because no regulation of, ie., fraud on wall street, etc., can be passed. How about a tax on stock trades to come directly from the traders' (traitors/frauds) bottom lines and provide a disincentive for the churn-and-earn fraud which is tantamount to a wasteful tax on the economy. Even token Christian paulison from jew fraud wall street couldn't stem the tide against the blatent zionist/neocon/bush co failure accross the board as the wall street frauds show record profits financed, albeit indirectly, by huge deficits, both trade and budget. Obfuscating mergers blur the picture to provide cover for up move talking points in defiance of reality.  Stagflation and full employment revisions pre-election.....riiiiight. Productivity comes in at a less than expected 0 (inflationary). The only surprise should have been that the number wasn't negative. The pundits are now saying that the market/wall street fraud is in a state of denial regarding economic fundamentals and that the market is substantially overbought, overvalued, overfrauded, over, etc., the manufacturing index coming in lower than expectations. Consumer sentiment unexpectedly fell.....daaaaah. Pre-election core inflation rate report good …..riiiiight…..but savings rate still negative and walmart sales/profits/outlook substantially below expectations but what the heck, they’re wallstreet lunatics/frauds and reality is no problem. Despite pre-election deficit spending, GNP comes in a less than expected paltry 1.6% increase with worthless falling dollar the catch-22 precluding reality avoidance and the worst yet to come. More nations leaving the worthless dollar as reserve currency even as frauds on wall street reach new highs (What are they smoking? Coking? or like the dollar just cracking) based on corporate welfare flows with money the nation doesn't have pre-election (record deficits). Housing prices continue their sharp decline as bubble deflates. GM only lost 115 million. Ford lost 5.8 billion and must restate earnings back to year 2000 is a bullish sign in the fraudulent alice-in-wonderland lunatic world of wall street. Typical pre-fed meeting rally to provide a cushion for any negative pronouncements which reality would require but are seldom forthcoming by the accommodative frauds who have similarly embraced unreality. Indeed, the gutless wimps of wall street think they're "tough" when they fraudulently take the market higher despite a clearly contrary fact based reality. Caterpillar relates the pervasive reality and the frauds on wallstreet intimidate same with sell off, ignoring pervasive options scandal/fraud and rallies Merck despite lower than expectation results.....riiiiight! Election year corporate welfare to prime the pump and the mock stock market with money the nation doesn’t have (increasing already huge deficits). CPI figures (upon which government inflation adjusted payment obligations are based) lower than expected…..riiiiight! Intel earnings/revenues down sharply but according to the lunatic frauds on wall street, beat expectations and stock rallies along with yahoo which as in the pre-dot com bust days says better days are a coming….. riiiiight Core inflation rate which is closely watched by the Fed exceeds all expectations. Fraud Merrill Lynch has really been pushing and commissioning that worthless paper and reports record earnings, despite having produced nothing and for very little if any value added (that ill-gotten money has to come from somewhere-your pockets?). The big economic report awaiting scrutiny was the monthly trade deficit which was expected to narrow but in fact INCREASED to 69.9 billion. The alice-in-wonderland lunatic wall street frauds rallied on the news as the dollar precipitously fell. The Fed Chairman said there is a "substantial correction" in housing, which will probably shave about 1% off growth in the second half of the year. The Institute of Supply Management said its services index fell to 52.9 in September -- the lowest level since April 2003. Great News….. riiiiight!..... Consumer Confidence Higher Than Expected... riiiiight!..... and housing starts were down sharply but not-as-bad-as-expectations game in play US Existing Home Sales Fall 0.5% in August; Sales Price Drops Existing-home prices fall for 1st time in 11 years along with fed jaw-boning pre-election that inflation has been licked .....riiiiight …..despite printing worthless dollars like they’re going out of style because they really are! Fed did nothing and stocks rallied, pre-election.....riiiiight! What about the reality of u.s. debt service at a record unsustainable $2 billion per day on a revolving $2 trillion charge account with ie., China, etc.. The fact that foreclosures are up and that there is projected new trade deficit record, fake government inflation numbers for election year purposes, housing starts down 6% means little to the alice-in-wonderland lunatic frauds of wall street and the so-called pundits including yahoo below. Almost all computerized volume is and must be considered heavy, manipulated, economically wasteful volume [stocks move contrary to rational analytical facts (ie., exceeded lowered expectations, things so bad interest rates can’t rise, exceeded expectations, no earnings but outlook extraordinary, the fed says booo as they print more worthless dollars to finance deficits, etc. ) is money in the bank for the frauds on wall street when they unwind said irrational positions ]. Philadelphia Federal Reserve announces that its broadest measure of manufacturing activity fell to a negative reading for the first time since April 2003, leading economic indicators fall .2%, and previously fell .1% though expected to show an increase, and in addition to the larger than expected 4.1% drop in July existing home sales to its lowest level in over two years and lifted inventories to record levels , new home sales fell 4.3%, and a larger than expected 2.4% decline in July durable orders which are negatives anywhere but in the alice-in-wonderland lunatic world of wall street where same is greeted as good news as also follows with b**l s**t from Yahoo (which didn’t even reference the record unanticipated trade gap):

 

Fannie Mae Erases $6.3 Billion in Profit

AP - Fannie Mae erased $6.3 billion in profit in a long-awaited restatement Wednesday capping the accounting scandal that stunned financial markets and brought the ouster of top executives and a record fine against the government-sponsored mortgage leader.

Dow Closes Down 22, Nasdaq Closes Down 7 AP

Yahoo Makes Major Organizational Changes AP

Home Depot Finds $200M in Option Expense AP

Must-Have Holiday Gifts Not Easy to Find AP

With the S&P 500 closing at a fresh six-year high a day earlier and the Dow turning in a two-day gain nearly equivalent to last month's 1.2% performance, stocks struggled to get over the hump Wednesday. Contributing to the sense of lethargy that kept stocks in a relatively tight trading range throughout the session was simply a lack of market-moving data to keep the bulls on the buying track. With drug companies a focal point of late, and the absence of any scheduled economic reports placing even more emphasis on corporate news, the biggest announcement today came from Merck (MRK 44.62 -0.39). However, with investors bidding up shares of the Dow component to the tune of 45% this year in anticipation of improving fundamentals, merely reaffirming its full-year EPS outlook and guiding fiscal 2007 in line with Wall Street forecasts gave investors little to get excited about. Another notable headline was a management shake-up at Yahoo! (YHOO 26.85 -0.58). However, since the surprise resignation of three executives and promotion of its CFO added to uncertainty already surrounding the tech laggard, investors didn't exactly applaud that news either. Adding insult to injury within the Technology sector was a 5% sell-off in another one of its most influential components -- Oracle (ORCL 17.85 -1.01). After hitting a new 52-week high three weeks ago, Lehman Brothers told investors to take some profits. Even though oil prices only closed slightly lower, Energy pacing with way to the downside among the six sectors losing ground removed some notable leadership as well. Not to mention, the sector's biggest disappointment happened to be the largest U.S. company by market capitalization -- Exxon Mobil (XOM 76.34 -1.72). The Dow component's 2.2% decline accounted for roughly two-thirds of the price-weighted index's 22-point pullback. DJ30 -22.35 DJTA -0.8% DJUA -0.7% DOT -0.6% NASDAQ -6.52 SOX +0.4% SP500 -1.86 NASDAQ Dec/Adv/Vol 1627/1395/1.91 bln NYSE Dec/Adv/Vol 1840/1454/1.47 bln

 

(12-05-06) Blazing full moon and hence, roaring suckers bear market rally is nothing less than a defacto fraud by the lunatic frauds on wall street to suck the suckers in; ie., as the Dow Jones industrial average up 47, Standard & Poor's 500 index up 5, and the Nasdaq composite index up 3, all very commissionable on heavy volume as in final pre-election result push for bush, which fell very short. The ism services index (financed by unsustainable deficit/debt spending and pushing/commissioning worthless paper) and jawboning/bulls**t from the housing industry (the end is near.....riiiiight!), obfuscating mergers continued to cloud the picture, closely-watched core-PCE deflator had risen a more than expected 0.2%, second sub-50 reading on manufacturing activity in as many sessions-the November ISM index unexpectedly fell to 49.5 (consensus 52.0), Chicago PMI fell to its lowest level (49.9%) in October, and below the 50 level, indicating contraction, crude prices up (OIL PRICES RISE ABOVE $63 A BARREL...), DOLLAR RESUMES SLIDE, Fed Chairman Bernanke & Co. cheerleading/jawboning/bulls**t, 3.2% decline in new home sales, oil inventories down and oil prices up, all very bad news anywhere but in the fraudulent alice-in-wonderland world of wall street. Durable goods orders fell sharply, sentiment down, but supposedly used home sales rose slightly (riiiiight.....who says; the realtors/government who have been talking up this bubble market?) albeit at sharply lower prices. DOLLAR PLUNGES TO NEAR 15-YEAR LOW  In other words, no good news to justify the ridiculous up move by the alice-in-wonderland frauds of wall street. Worthless dollar, triple deficits, stock/options scandals/corruption, as some speculate that fed is behind purchases/manipulation (through proxy)of worthless american paper now being shunned by more rational market players abroad.  MARKETS ROCKED BY LONG OVERDUE BUT STILL MODEST RELATIVE TO REALITY SHARP SLIDE IN DOLLAR...There has never been a time since 1929 when stock prices and p/e ratios were so irrationally high for this point in a bull cycle in this indisputable secular bear market, particularly with the existing unprecedented structural economic problems, ie., trade and budget deficits, worthless dollar, scandals, fraud, corruption , etc.. In fact, unemployment unexpectedly rose substantially and consumer sentiment unexpectedly but similarly realistically fell, both very negative exept in the  fraudulent alice-in-wonderland world of wall street. Indeed, the housing bubble bursting with ie., unexpected 14% decline in starts/permits, etc., led to rally in the fraudulent alice-in-wonderland world of wall street. Obfuscating mergers help preclude detection of this massive and pervasive fraud which defies analysis owing to these mergers. New talking pointing: dell numbers exceed expectations depending upon ongoing government scrutiny of their accounting practices.....riiiiight! More contrived manipulated markets and data well as that previous unexpected rise in that global hub of manufacturing activity, New York (worthless paper is their real product, etc.) …..riiiiight!….. underpins fraudulent up move. Reassuring Fed speak, also known as b**l s**t, along with IPO’s (get the suckers in at the highs as in late 90’s market bubble), and shrugging off pervasive stock/options fraud as at, ie., KB Homes, etc., leave stocks ridiculously higher. Nations leaving the worthless dollar in droves for currencies backed by value and for precious metals. Based on the self-interested statement of typical fraud american and fed rep, we hear once again the wishful thought that housing has bottomed.....right! [Reality/Truth: US housing slump deepens, spreads]. Home depot rallies despite lower than expected results and lower guidance for the year.....right! Who is stupid enough to believe anything the fraudulent criminal americans say. They are printing worthless dollars like mad. Consumer sentiment actually previously fell and there was nothing but wall street lunacy to prop the fraudulent market. The republicans who lockstepped with war criminal dumbya bush deserved to lose. The frauds on wall street now looking for the new corporate welfare program for which to sell the sizzle ie., stem cells, etc.. The know-nothing pundits are now saying the up move without any rational basis is predicated upon the the falsity that gridlock in washington is welcomed and good because no regulation of, ie., fraud on wall street, etc., can be passed. How about a tax on stock trades to come directly from the traders' (traitors/frauds) bottom lines and provide a disincentive for the churn-and-earn fraud which is tantamount to a wasteful tax on the economy. Even token Christian paulison from jew fraud wall street couldn't stem the tide against the blatent zionist/neocon/bush co failure accross the board as the wall street frauds show record profits financed, albeit indirectly, by huge deficits, both trade and budget. Obfuscating mergers blur the picture to provide cover for up move talking points in defiance of reality.  Stagflation and full employment revisions pre-election.....riiiiight. Productivity comes in at a less than expected 0 (inflationary). The only surprise should have been that the number wasn't negative. The pundits are now saying that the market/wall street fraud is in a state of denial regarding economic fundamentals and that the market is substantially overbought, overvalued, overfrauded, over, etc., the manufacturing index coming in lower than expectations. Consumer sentiment unexpectedly fell.....daaaaah. Pre-election core inflation rate report good …..riiiiight…..but savings rate still negative and walmart sales/profits/outlook substantially below expectations but what the heck, they’re wallstreet lunatics/frauds and reality is no problem. Despite pre-election deficit spending, GNP comes in a less than expected paltry 1.6% increase with worthless falling dollar the catch-22 precluding reality avoidance and the worst yet to come. More nations leaving the worthless dollar as reserve currency even as frauds on wall street reach new highs (What are they smoking? Coking? or like the dollar just cracking) based on corporate welfare flows with money the nation doesn't have pre-election (record deficits). Housing prices continue their sharp decline as bubble deflates. GM only lost 115 million. Ford lost 5.8 billion and must restate earnings back to year 2000 is a bullish sign in the fraudulent alice-in-wonderland lunatic world of wall street. Typical pre-fed meeting rally to provide a cushion for any negative pronouncements which reality would require but are seldom forthcoming by the accommodative frauds who have similarly embraced unreality. Indeed, the gutless wimps of wall street think they're "tough" when they fraudulently take the market higher despite a clearly contrary fact based reality. Caterpillar relates the pervasive reality and the frauds on wallstreet intimidate same with sell off, ignoring pervasive options scandal/fraud and rallies Merck despite lower than expectation results.....riiiiight! Election year corporate welfare to prime the pump and the mock stock market with money the nation doesn’t have (increasing already huge deficits). CPI figures (upon which government inflation adjusted payment obligations are based) lower than expected…..riiiiight! Intel earnings/revenues down sharply but according to the lunatic frauds on wall street, beat expectations and stock rallies along with yahoo which as in the pre-dot com bust days says better days are a coming….. riiiiight Core inflation rate which is closely watched by the Fed exceeds all expectations. Fraud Merrill Lynch has really been pushing and commissioning that worthless paper and reports record earnings, despite having produced nothing and for very little if any value added (that ill-gotten money has to come from somewhere-your pockets?). The big economic report awaiting scrutiny was the monthly trade deficit which was expected to narrow but in fact INCREASED to 69.9 billion. The alice-in-wonderland lunatic wall street frauds rallied on the news as the dollar precipitously fell. The Fed Chairman said there is a "substantial correction" in housing, which will probably shave about 1% off growth in the second half of the year. The Institute of Supply Management said its services index fell to 52.9 in September -- the lowest level since April 2003. Great News….. riiiiight!..... Consumer Confidence Higher Than Expected... riiiiight!..... and housing starts were down sharply but not-as-bad-as-expectations game in play US Existing Home Sales Fall 0.5% in August; Sales Price Drops Existing-home prices fall for 1st time in 11 years along with fed jaw-boning pre-election that inflation has been licked .....riiiiight …..despite printing worthless dollars like they’re going out of style because they really are! Fed did nothing and stocks rallied, pre-election.....riiiiight! What about the reality of u.s. debt service at a record unsustainable $2 billion per day on a revolving $2 trillion charge account with ie., China, etc.. The fact that foreclosures are up and that there is projected new trade deficit record, fake government inflation numbers for election year purposes, housing starts down 6% means little to the alice-in-wonderland lunatic frauds of wall street and the so-called pundits including yahoo below. Almost all computerized volume is and must be considered heavy, manipulated, economically wasteful volume [stocks move contrary to rational analytical facts (ie., exceeded lowered expectations, things so bad interest rates can’t rise, exceeded expectations, no earnings but outlook extraordinary, the fed says booo as they print more worthless dollars to finance deficits, etc. ) is money in the bank for the frauds on wall street when they unwind said irrational positions ]. Philadelphia Federal Reserve announces that its broadest measure of manufacturing activity fell to a negative reading for the first time since April 2003, leading economic indicators fall .2%, and previously fell .1% though expected to show an increase, and in addition to the larger than expected 4.1% drop in July existing home sales to its lowest level in over two years and lifted inventories to record levels , new home sales fell 4.3%, and a larger than expected 2.4% decline in July durable orders which are negatives anywhere but in the alice-in-wonderland lunatic world of wall street where same is greeted as good news as also follows with b**l s**t from Yahoo (which didn’t even reference the record unanticipated trade gap):

Stocks End Up on Service Sector Activity
AP - Wall Street rallied for a second straight session Tuesday after easing wage pressures and stronger-than-expected service sector activity raised prospects that the economy could cool gradually and leave room for the Federal Reserve to lower interest rates next year.

Productivity Up 0.2 Percent in 3rd Qtr. AP
U.S. Service Economy Expands in November
AP
Oil Prices Steady As Market Eyes OPEC
AP
GM to Make Rollover Protection Standard
AP

While paling in comparison to Monday's impressive rally, more evidence that the U.S. economy is on pace for a soft landing provided a floor of modest buying support from the opening bell to the close of trading. Albeit not a major economic report, today's ISM services data attracted more attention than usual since the ISM manufacturing index turned in a sub-50 reading last Friday for the first time in more than three years. So, when the Institute of Supply Management at 10:00 ET said its services index in November unexpectedly rose to 58.9 -- the highest level since May -- stocks spiked to their best levels of the morning. Another economic release that seldom has a significant impact on the market but helped provide a floor of support for stocks Tuesday was the revision to Q3 productivity. With Fed Chairman Bernanke saying last week there is a risk that rising wages could feed inflation as businesses pass on higher costs to customers, unit labor costs rising just 2.3% (consensus 3.2%) from a prior read of 3.8% removed some of that concern. As a reminder, the Fed reconvenes one week from today.  This morning's "incoming" data lent more support for policy makers to remain on hold. Also helping to keep the month of December's reputation intact as the best month of the year for the S&P 500 was solid industry leadership across the board. Of the 10 sectors trading higher, Consumer Discretionary paced the way. Comcast Corp. (CMCSA 41.92 +1.09) hit a new 52-week and was among the sector's most influential movers (+2.6%) after saying last night it expects to post solid Q4 earnings. Dow component and suggested holding in the Briefing.com Active Portfolio, Walt Disney (DIS 34.15 +0.71), was another bright spot. The stock surged 2.2% to a new multi-year high following "very bullish" CFO commentary about growth prospects in 2007. Homebuilders provided additional sector support after Toll Brothers' (TOL 32.86 +0.95) hinted that a floor is forming in some housing markets. Restaurants also attracted buyers, getting a lift following an analyst upgrade on Starbucks (SBUX 36.81 +1.06) and after J.P. Morgan affirmed McDonald's (MCD 42.81 +0.31), another suggested holding in the Briefing.com Active Portfolio, as its top large-cap pick. The Consumer Staples sector ranked second on the day in terms of performance. Coca-Cola (KO 47.97 +1.14) was the day's best performing Dow component (+2.4%) after Merrill Lynch raised its stock price target on the beverage giant to $51 from $48. Aside from strength in Beverages, the Food Retail group got a boost after Kroger (KR 23.44 +1.11) raised its earnings growth guidance for fiscal 2006 to 8-10% from 6-8%.Even though consolidation throughout Treasuries lifted borrowing costs across the yield curve, the rate-sensitive Financials sector garnered enough strength from some key components to extend its year-to-date gain to more than 13%. Aside from continued momentum in brokers and banks, among the most notable individual winners was an insurance giant. Prudential Financial (PRU 84.24 +2.00) hit a new 52-week high after issuing an encouraging outlook for 2007, which plays into our Overweight rating on the sector. BTK +0.1% DJ30 +47.75 DJTA +1.0% DJUA +0.3% NASDAQ +3.99 NQ100 +0.3% R2K +0.2% SOX +0.8% SP400 +0.2% SP500 +5.64 XOI +0.8% NASDAQ Dec/Adv/Vol1490/1607/1.97bln NYSE Dec/Adv/V1222/2031/1.43 bln

U.S. HOUSING SLUMP DEEPENS, SPREADS
BARRIE MCKENNA Washington — First, Americans quit buying homes. Now, they may have stopped fixing and furnishing them too. Home Depot Inc. reported a 3-per-cent drop in profit in the three months that ended in October, amid mounting evidence that the U.S. housing slump is getting worse. “I don't think we've seen the bottom yet, and I don't see anything that says it's going to get significantly better in 2007,” said Bob Nardelli, Home Depot's chairman and chief executive officer. Mr. Nardelli said job losses in the home construction market are the worst he's seen in 35 years, and the pain is starting to spread to the home renovation market. “The loss of jobs ... in the home construction market is at unprecedented levels,” Mr. Nardelli told analysts on a conference call Tuesday. “Home builders [are] basically writing off earnest money and liquidating land. We're starting to see a lot of that unemployment find its way over to the small repair and remodel contractors.” Problems in the housing sector have also begun to affect how consumers spend their money. In October, U.S. retail sales fell at an annual rate of 0.2 per cent — the third consecutive monthly decline, according to a U.S. Commerce Department report Tuesday. The decline was heavily influenced by lower gasoline prices, which resulted in less revenue for gas stations. But there were also sharp declines in building materials (down 0.3 per cent), furniture (down 0.7 per cent) and department store sales (down 0.7 per cent). Over the past three months, sales of building materials have plunged at an annual rate of 10.6 per cent. “The housing slowdown left its grimy fingerprints all over this report,” BMO Nesbitt Burns economist Douglas Porter said in a note to clients. Lower gasoline prices don't seem to be causing consumers to spend elsewhere, as many economists had predicted. Even if you strip out volatile gas, food and auto sales, all other retail sales rose a meagre 0.1 per cent October. “People are being very cautious,” said Ian Shepherdson, chief North American economist at High Frequency Economics. “The housing crunch is now hurting.” At least two other bellwether U.S. retailers — Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Target Corp. — reported Tuesday that their sales and profit remain strong, in spite of the problems in the housing sector. But executives at Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, acknowledged that sales in the third quarter were disappointing and it is already vowing its biggest-ever discounting binge on items such as toys and electronics to keep cash registers ringing this Christmas. “This season, no one will doubt Wal-Mart's leadership on price and value,” Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott said. Wal-Mart's profit rose to $2.65-billion (U.S.) or 63 cents a share in the third quarter that ended Oct. 31, up from $2.37-billion or 57 cents a year earlier. That was slightly below what analysts had expected, according to Reuters. Sales were up 12 per cent to $83.5-billion. But those figures include sales at newly opened stores and foreign stores. Sales at U.S. stores that have been open at least a year were up just 1.5 per cent, and Mr. Scott said fourth-quarter sales would rise just 1 to 2 per cent.

There is nothing to rationally justify the previous up move or mixed results in the market other than what is tantamount to a negative, and based upon spurious data from the government; ie., fake government numbers said total PPI rose a smaller than expected 0.1% (consensus 0.4%) in July, which was well below the 0.5% jump in June, while the more closely watched core rate (ex-food and energy) unexpectedly (RIIIIIGHT!) fell 0.3% (consensus +0.2%) -- the first decline since October and the largest drop since a 0.5% decline in April 2003. Home Sales Decline in 28 States, D.C.. Real estate prices down/stagnant. But housing stocks…..up.....riiiiight!.....in the fraudulent "alice-in-wonderland" lunatic world of wall street where down is up and up is down.  Martin Crutsinger, AP Economics Writer, previously wrote,” U.S. Trade Deficit Falls 0.3 Percent in June to $64.8B, Offs